Saudis say Crown Prince doesn’t intend to buy Man United

RIYADH (AP) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not intend to buy Manchester United, the kingdom’s government said, while confirming its sovereign wealth fund held sponsorship talks with English football’s most successful team.

New York-listed United has been valued at around USD4 billion and British newspaper The Sun reported Prince Mohammad was stepping up a bid over the weekend.

Speculation has grown about Saudi interest in United since the club signed a “strategic partnership” with the kingdom’s General Sports Authority in 2017. But Saudi Media Minister Turki Al-Shabanah has distanced the country from a takeover of one of the biggest brands in sports.

“Reports claiming that HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman intends on buying @ManUtd are completely false,” Al-Shabanah tweeted from a verified account.

United is owned by the Glazer family, who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Glazers bought United in 2005 and maintained control after floating part of the record 20-time English champions on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.

Al-Shabanah tweeted that United held a meeting with Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund “to discuss sponsorship opportunity. No deal has been materialised”.

The club did not comment on the reports about takeover interest from Saudi Arabia ahead of the minister’s denial.

The Glazers have turned United into one of the biggest money-making machines in football, with the club last week projecting revenue for the financial year of between 615 million pounds and 630 million pounds.