English football giants Manchester United are expecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to step up his efforts to buy the club after having a previous bid of almost $4 billion rejected, according to reports.
The Premier League club have been owned since 2005 by the Glazer family – billionaire Americans who boast a real estate empire and NFL team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but their tenure has been hit by frequent protests from fans angry at their running of the club.
A report in the Mirror states that officials at United are now braced for a fresh takeover attempt from Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman, who reportedly saw a previous offer of £3 billion (US$3.89 billion) rebuffed by the Glazers – which is said to have been the second Saudi attempt at buying the Old Trafford club.
As the Mirror reports, United co-owner Kevin Glazer recently put a 13 percent stake in the club on the New York Stock Exchange, signaling that the family could be testing the waters over interest from potential buyers.
The Glazers bought the club for around $1.4 billion, while current estimates suggest an offer of $4 billion would be needed for them to part with the Premier League giants.
That is despite the team’s current woes on the pitch, where they have endured their worst start to a season in 30 years, and are without a league title since 2013.
Increasing ire has been targeted at the Glazers, as well as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, over what is seen as a prioritizing of commercial gain over performances on the pitch as the team struggles under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Saudis have not commented on the latest reports, but previously rejected any notion that they were interested in buying the club, describing rumors in February of this year as “completely false.”