Man United bidders set to make latest takeover offers

Man United bidders set to make latest takeover offers
Representatives of Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani toured Old Trafford and the club’s training ground last Thursday. (AFP/File)
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Updated 21 March 2023

Man United bidders set to make latest takeover offers

Man United bidders set to make latest takeover offers

MANCHESTER: After a series of high-level meetings last week, a second round of bids to buy Manchester United are due Wednesday.

Representatives of Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani toured Old Trafford and the club’s training ground last Thursday, meeting with United executives. Jim Ratcliffe held talks with the Premier League club on Friday and was pictured being greeted by chief executive Richard Arnold. American investment firm Elliott Management has also held meetings with a view to providing capital for takeover bids or other finance options.

Indicative offers were submitted to American merchant bank Raine last month, with Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe confirming their intention to buy out the Glazer family, the current owners of United.

The next stage of the process included a closer look at United’s business and meetings with key executives before making renewed bids.

Sheikh Jassim is chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a former Qatari prime minister. He is aiming to take 100 percent ownership of United and is intent on investing in the club’s stadium and training facilities. He sent real estate advisers as part of his delegation last week.

Ratcliffe is the billionaire owner of petrochemicals giant INEOS and is bidding for majority ownership after launching a failed attempt to buy Chelsea last year.

United are expected to become the most expensive sports team in history, with the price estimated to reach up to $6 billion.

Last year, Raine handled the sale of Chelsea to Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital for about $3 billion. The Denver Broncos were sold to Walmart heir Rob Walton and his daughter and son-in-law for a record $4.65 billion last year.

United’s prospective new owners could also have to spend about $1 billion to redevelop the stadium.

Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe remain the only bidders to publicly declare their interest in the 20-time English league champions. There is still a possibility that the Glazers could opt against a full sale of the club as they explore “strategic alternatives.”

Second bids for United are due to be placed by 9 p.m. Wednesday.


Real estate developer ROSHN becomes platinum sponsor of Saudi champions Al-Ittihad

Real estate developer ROSHN becomes platinum sponsor of Saudi champions Al-Ittihad
Updated 1 min 35 sec ago

Real estate developer ROSHN becomes platinum sponsor of Saudi champions Al-Ittihad

Real estate developer ROSHN becomes platinum sponsor of Saudi champions Al-Ittihad
  • Citing the recent signing of Benzema, ROSHN Group CEO highlighted club’s importance to Saudi sport

RIYADH: Real estate developer ROSHN has signed a three-year deal to become the platinum sponsor of Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad.

This sponsorship is part of the Public Investment Fund-owned company’s support for the development of the Kingdom’s sports sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

ROSHN Group CEO David Grover described Al-Ittihad as an important part of the Saudi sports scene, citing the team’s recent signing of French superstar striker Karim Benzema.

Abdulwahab Abed, the CEO of Al-Ittihad, said the sponsorship deal comes at the end of a successful season during which the club won the Saudi Super Cup and the Roshn Saudi League. The sponsorship will allow the team to expand and develop, he added, particularly as it prepares to play regionally and internationally next season.

ROSHN has previously sponsored the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah and the LIV Golf Invitational, also in Jeddah.
 


Benzema happy to be in ‘beloved and beautiful’ Saudi Arabia and ready to push his limits

Karim Benzema signs for Saudi club Al Ittihad. (Supplied/Al-Ittihad)
Karim Benzema signs for Saudi club Al Ittihad. (Supplied/Al-Ittihad)
Updated 08 June 2023

Benzema happy to be in ‘beloved and beautiful’ Saudi Arabia and ready to push his limits

Karim Benzema signs for Saudi club Al Ittihad. (Supplied/Al-Ittihad)
  • New Al-Ittihad star is looking forward to playing against former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Benzema eager to encourage more youngsters and females to enjoy football

JEDDAH: New Al Ittihad signing Karim Benzema is looking forward to getting results in front of the ‘passionate’ Saudi fans and delivering trophies to his “legendary” new club in a competitive league which he believes is improving year on year.

The current holder of the Ballon d’or signed for the Jeddah based club following 14 seasons of domestic and European glory with Spanish giants Real Madrid and is hoping that his experience can bring plenty of honours for his new club, the recently crowned Saudi Pro League champions.

Speaking on an exclusive interview published on the club Twitter and Instagram and Saudi Pro League channels, he said: “I hope for my new club, what I’ll be able to bring is my football and most importantly to be able to win titles. It’s a new chapter for me and I would like to further advance the club. It’s a club with a lot of passion. I would like the fans to find themselves in me. I would like to leave a lasting legacy, because I love football. I always have this competitiveness to push my limits and go even higher. That’s why I’m going to be well prepared to give them and show them my talent.”

When asked why came to Saudi Arabia, he stated: “Well because I am Muslim and it’s a Muslim country. I’ve always wanted to live there. I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia and I feel good about it. Most importantly it’s a Muslim country, it’s beloved and it’s beautiful. When I had a conversation with my family I was signing with Saudi Arabia, they were all very happy and here i am, to me it’s where I want to be.”

Speaking about the footballing standards of the players in the Saudi Pro League, he added: “I heard a lot of things, it’s a good championship and there are many good players… each year they take go a level higher. I saw the World Cup, they (Saudi Arabia) played a good game, great matches, especially against (eventual World Cup champions) Argentina. Obviously, they have very good players.”

Benzema famously created a potent attacking threat alongside Cristiano Ronaldo during a highly successful spell at Real Madrid, and he will be lining up against his former Bernabeu team-mate next season, after the Portuguese sensation joined Al-Nassr in Riyadh last term.

Benzema admits that his former team-mate is playing an important role in elevating the standard and profile of Saudi football.

“It’s important also that Cristiano Ronaldo is in Saudi Arabia, because he’s a very big player. He brings a lot to the game in this country and that will further elevate their playing level,” he said. “So it’s important to show that Saudi football can have a global impact because it’s not about playing in Saudi Arabia or not performing. No, on the contrary I have to push and show all that I was able to do in Europe and and bring it back with me to Saudi Arabia.

The lure of playing for Al-Ittihad, the oldest sports club in Saudi Arabia, was strong for Benzema. Explaining his decision to swap life in Madrid for Jeddah, he said: “It’s one of the top clubs in Saudi Arabia. It’s a club that sees a lot of passion from its fan and has many trophies.

“I would really like to further elevate the club. The stadium is exceptional, and as I said and will repeat; there’s so much passion - a good team always needs fans. The fans are very important, and with that passion, it gives us the motivation to be best on the field.”

Benzema’s signing is part of a new phase in brand-building for the SPL, aimed at generating greater global awareness, engaging more Saudi football fans across society, and encouraging greater community participation in sports, as part of Vision2030, the ambitious transformational plan. Over the last season of the Saudi Pro League, Al-Ittihad Club welcomed over 600,000 fans, more than any other club in the league and was watched from 48 different channels and platforms across 170 countries.   

The striker hopes it will have an impact on football fans all over the country. He said: “The message for all the young people who play football, who love football is to build their dreams, to work hard, to respect the rules of the game, which means respecting the human being, and to always have pleasure in playing football. And never give up; we can always achieve when we put in the work.”

On whether his high-profile signing will encourage more women to participate in football, he added: “Football is important for everyone - for women, for men and we see it even in Europe, they have female teams including the Champions League. It’s important to be supportive, and therefore whether it’s men or women, we are here to support. For women, I’m happy to be part of this family.”

Aside from football, Benzema admitted he had other reasons for moving to Saudi Arabia, stating his Muslim faith as playing a big part in the decision.

“I feel people already like me. And it will allow me to have a new life,” he said. “I would like to learn Arabic and speak fluently, it’s important for me. I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia, Mecca is very close (to Jeddah) and as a believer it’s important for me, this is where I will feel at my best and in my element.

The French star touched down at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport late Wednesday, June 7 ahead of his official unveiling in Saudi Arabia.


Man City and Inter target Champions League glory in Istanbul final

Man City and Inter target Champions League glory in Istanbul final
Updated 08 June 2023

Man City and Inter target Champions League glory in Istanbul final

Man City and Inter target Champions League glory in Istanbul final
  • A victory for City will see them complete the treble after they claimed a fifth Premier League title in six seasons
  • Inter Milan have won the European Cup twice in the 1960s and this is their sixth final altogether

ISTANBUL, Turkiye: Manchester City are hoping to get their hands on the Champions League trophy at last, and complete a historic treble, when Pep Guardiola’s team face outsiders Inter Milan in Saturday’s final in Istanbul.

City have been building toward winning Europe’s elite club competition since the Abu Dhabi-backed takeover of 2008 which transformed them and helped reshape the sport on the continent.
They came agonizingly close to Champions League glory in 2021, losing narrowly to Chelsea in the final, before being denied in last year’s semifinals by a remarkable Real Madrid comeback.
Having exacted revenge on Madrid, the holders, in this season’s last four with a 5-1 aggregate triumph, they are now expected to complete the job at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
“We have all been working for this for a long time,” City goalkeeper Ederson, at the club since 2017, said this week.
“The whole team have seen a lot of victories but also defeats as well. The players who have been here for five or six years who have seen these sorts of defeats, we have learnt from them so that helps us to grow as a team.”

The Champions League trophy is shown at Besiktas' Vodafone park stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 6, 2023. (AP)

A victory for City will see them complete the treble after they claimed a fifth Premier League title in six seasons and then lifted the FA Cup last weekend, beating Manchester United 2-1 in the final.
United were the last English club to achieve the treble, in 1999.
Ilkay Gundogan was City’s goal hero in the FA Cup final, as Erling Haaland drew a rare blank, but the Norwegian has scored 52 times for his club this season.
His goals appear to have taken City to another level, and Guardiola seems poised to finally win a third Champions League, 12 years after claiming a second in three seasons with Barcelona.
“If we want to make a definitive step as a big club, we must win in Europe,” Guardiola, who joined City in 2016, told UEFA.com.
“We have to win the Champions (League). That’s something you can’t avoid.”

Simone Inzaghi’s Inter may have something to say about that, however, and perhaps being the underdog will suit the Nerazzurri.
They are one of Europe’s grand old names, having won the European Cup twice in the 1960s.
This is their sixth final altogether, and first since Jose Mourinho’s team triumphed in 2010, completing a treble of their own.
No Italian club has lifted the trophy since.
Money talks more than ever in football, and City topped this year’s Deloitte Football Money League with revenue of over 700 million euros ($749m).
Their revenue was more than double that of Inter, a club swimming in enormous debts. Nevertheless, their proud history means Inter will be in Saturday’s final to win it.
“We are a big club and we have a lot of expectation,” said goalkeeper Andre Onana.
“When Inter gets into a final they have to win. We’re all big players, we know how to play finals.”
Inter, who finished third in Serie A and won the Coppa Italia, could have had a harder run to this stage, beating Porto, Benfica and neighbors AC Milan in the knockout rounds.
However, they did qualify from a difficult group ahead of Barcelona.

Curiously, City’s first ever appearance in the old European Cup came against Istanbul club Fenerbahce in the 1968/69 first round, and ended in a 2-1 defeat.
That team, featuring Francis Lee, Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee, was City’s last great side before Abu Dhabi’s arrival.
City did not return to Europe’s top table until 2011, by which time former Inter coach Roberto Mancini was at the helm.
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium has hosted a Champions League final between English and Italian clubs before.
This year’s match will need to go a long way to equal the drama of 2005, when Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool recovered from a three-goal half-time deficit to draw 3-3 with Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan before winning on penalties.
The 72,000-seat stadium, located around 25 kilometers west of central Istanbul, now finally gets the chance to stage the showpiece game again.
It was supposed to be the venue for the 2020 final, only for the pandemic to force UEFA to move the latter stages of the competition to Lisbon.
Plans to hold the final there in 2021 again had to be changed, with the match between City and Chelsea eventually taking place in the Portuguese city of Porto.
 


West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League

West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League
Updated 08 June 2023

West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League

West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League

PRAGUE: Jarrod Bowen’s dramatic 90th-minute goal secured West Ham their first major European trophy since 1965 with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.
It is the second European trophy for West Ham after they won the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup 58 years ago with a team including England World Cup heroes Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst.
Bowen picked up a superb through ball from Lucas Paqueta, before sending a low shot past a helpless Pietro Terracciano in the Fiorentina goal.
“I obviously dreamed of scoring but to score the winner in the last minute. It’s what you always say you want to do,” Bowen told BT Sport.
“To do it in front of these fans. I thought I was going to cry. I’m just happy.”
Said Benrahma had opened the scoring for West Ham in Prague as he blasted a penalty past Terracciano on 62 minutes after VAR had caught Cristiano Biraghi handling the ball trying to stop Bowen in the box.
Giacomo Bonaventura levelled five minutes later, beating West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a fine, low right-footed effort.
Bonaventura capitalized on a superb header back from Nicolas Gonzalez who had leapt over West Ham full-back Emerson.
The champions’ name will be the second ever on the Conference League trophy following Roma, who won the maiden edition of the competition last year.
West Ham have also clinched a spot in next season’s Europa League with the win, while Fiorentina will miss out on European competition after finishing eighth in the Serie A.
West Ham’s previous major trophy was back in 1980 when they won the FA Cup.
They spent most of the last season battling the prospect of relegation, finishing 14th in the Premier League in the end.
“We had a dream, we haven’t had the best season, myself included, but to give these fans this moment, I’m over the moon,” Bowen said.
“This is the biggest game of my career. The emotion, there was time for one more chance. I’m just so happy.”
The game got off to a slow start, although Michail Antonio tested Terracciano with a low shot on 40 seconds.
Fiorentina dominated possession and looked more organized in a largely uneventful first half.
But they did not came close until injury time when Christian Kouame headed against the post from Gonzalez’s cross.
Fiorentina striker Luka Jovic then tapped the ball across the line on a rebound but his goal was ruled out for offside.
Declan Rice’s 13th-minute shot from outside the box whizzed just past the post in the Hammers’ best chance of the first half.
Rice may have played his last game for the East Londoners as he is being courted by the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
The game changed with the goals as both sides suddenly looked far more lively, earning corners and creating chances.
But Rolando Mandragora sent his shot just wide and Sofyan Amrabat was denied by Areola, while Tomas Soucek’s header was saved by a diving Terracciano.
Before the game, Prague police said they had detained 16 people as Fiorentina fans attacked West Ham supporters in a bar in central Prague. Three people sustained light injuries.


Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’

Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’
Updated 07 June 2023

Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’

Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi will sign for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, the player said Wednesday in interviews with Spanish media, choosing the United States as his next destination over a Barcelona reunion or blockbuster deal to play in Saudi Arabia.
The Argentine forward, 35, has spent the last two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, playing his final game for the club on Saturday, after moving from Barcelona in 2021, where he spent the majority of his career.
Messi said that he did not want to have to wait for Barcelona to find a formula to be able to sign him given their financial situation — they were unable to keep him before his move to PSG, leading to a tearful departure.
“I was afraid that it would happen again,” Messi told Spanish newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
“I’ve taken the decision that I am going to Miami, I don’t have (the deal) 100 percent sealed or maybe there’s something left to do, but we decided to continue our path there.
“(I decided) to leave Europe, it’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even think about it because in Europe, my idea was only to go to Barcelona.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day to day life more.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”
Messi is a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and is expected to earn the individual accolade once more after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar in December 2022.
The football world was eagerly awaiting Messi’s decision after PSG confirmed this week the playmaker, widely considered the best player in the history of football, was departing.
Inter Miami, co-owned by former England international David Beckham and founded in 2018, sacked coach Phil Neville last week with the team bottom of the Eastern Conference — with Argentine Javier Morales taking over on an interim basis.
The romance of a Barcelona return and prospect of eye-watering riches in Saudi Arabia fell by the wayside as Messi opted to join MLS, with sun-soaked Miami a city he has holidayed in on previous occasions.
Some reports say key MLS sponsors including sportswear brand Adidas and Apple TV, who own the league’s domestic broadcasting rights, may be contributing to his deal.