Saudi Arabia says it wants its investors to take over Manchester United and Liverpool – and hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will play in its domestic league.
Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting goals in an interview Sky News – The state investment fund already owns Newcastle and is now financing the departing golf series.
Prince Abdulaziz is interested in United’s availability – after the Glazers announced plans to sell – and Ronaldo.
He would be interested in signing Ronaldo for the Saudi Arabian Pro League side after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent having left United this week.
“Who wouldn’t want him playing in their league?” Prince Abdulaziz said Sky News. “He is a role model for many young players – him and Messi.”
Sky Sports news understands that Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal are exploring a deal to sign Ronaldo.
According to Vision, the Saudi league would feature both Ronaldo and Messi, who is still attached to Paris Saint-Germain but has already registered to promote Saudi Arabia.
“It has been very beneficial for tourism in the kingdom,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “If they can, I would like to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
The Saudis bought Newcastle last year through a public investment fund, which the Premier League says is not under government control, although it is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
There are now two other Premier League clubs on the market – Liverpool and United – and the sports minister wants one – or both – to be owned by Saudi Arabia.
“I hope so if there are investors and the numbers add up and it makes for good business,” he said. “Then the private sector could come in or companies could come from the state.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone watches the Premier League. It’s the most watched league and there are die-hard fans of these teams across the country. So it would benefit everyone.”
“I can say we have a strong league. It’s not one of the strongest in Asia. You know, we’re building towards a better future. And we’ll see how the future holds up.”
He continued: “And you know, I heard about these speculations on the news, like everyone else. I don’t have any details of any published reports. But you know, I can say that we have Messi as a tourism ambassador in the kingdom with the Ministry of Tourism – and it has been very useful.
“In terms of tourism in the Kingdom, I would love to see them both play in the Saudi league, and if the top players come to the Saudi league to play, it will strengthen our programs. does.”
Avram Glazer faced Man Utd sales and Ronaldo
Manchester United co-owner Avram Glazer has spoken out for the first time since announcing the club could be up for sale.
Sky News tracked him down near his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was asked why now was the right time to sell the club.
He said: “As we announced yesterday, the government went through the process and decided that it was going to look at different strategic options – and that’s what we’re doing.”
He echoed that response when asked why the club hadn’t been sold earlier, adding: “We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Glazers are said to be furious with Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments in his recent interview and Ronaldo left United by mutual consent this week.
But Avram Glazer refused to be swayed by the striker’s claim – echoed by many fans – that his family “don’t care about the club”.
He told Sky News: “Well, I’ll tell you about Cristiano Ronaldo – he’s a great Manchester United player, I appreciate everything he’s done for the club and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
How everything has changed in 16 days…
November 8: Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group say they are “open to investors” coming in to help the club – something they remain “fully committed to”. Reports had previously claimed that FSG were ready to sell the club.
November 11: Liverpool have announced that FSG president Mike Gordon will step down following reports of the club being sold.
November 13: Cristiano Ronaldo bombshell interview TalkTV is published, in which he criticizes Manchester United, the Glazer family and manager Erik ten Hag, among others.
November 17: The second part of Ronaldo’s interview is broadcast in which he claims the Glazers “don’t care” about United.
November 22 at 5:30 p.m.: Following legal advice, Manchester United announced that they had terminated Ronaldo’s contract with United by mutual consent, with the 37-year-old becoming a free agent.
November 22 at 7:30 p.m.: Two hours after confirming Ronaldo’s departure, Sky News breaks the story that the Glazer family are ready to sell Manchester United.
November 22 at 9:30 p.m.: Two hours later, Manchester United released a statement saying the Glazers are open to identifying “strategic options… including new investments in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company”.
November 23: Reports in the UK claim that British billionaire and lifelong Manchester United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has previously expressed an interest in managing Old Trafford, is entering a bid to buy United.
November 24: Liverpool announced that sporting director Julian Ward, who replaced Michael Edwards in the role only a year ago, plans to leave the club at the end of the season. Research Director Ian Graham is also leaving his role.
November 24: Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal reveals to Sky News his country’s bid to take over both Manchester United and Liverpool.