United rebuff talk of £2bn takeover by Qatar Holding

MANCHESTER UNITED insist the club is not for sale and have denied suggestions that the Glazer family, which owns the club, has held talks with a Qatari consortium over a potential £2bn takeover.

Qatar Holding, the £40bn investment company owned by the Gulf kingdom’s royal family, is thought to have had a £1.5bn offer for the Premier League leaders rebuffed by the Glazers.

The American family, led by Malcolm Glazer (right), who bought United in 2005 for £790m but have grown unpopular with the club’s fans, are said to want nearer £2bn.

A United spokesman said: “There has been no approach of any kind to buy the club and one wouldn’t be welcome anyway because it is not for sale.”

A spokesman for Qatar Holding, which bought Harrods for £1.5bn last year and owns stakes in Barclays and the London Stock Exchange, declined to comment on a bid for United when contacted yesterday by City A.M.

Rumours of Qatari interest in United, one of the most valuable brands in sport, emerged 12 months ago when the club visited the emirate for a mid-season sunshine break.

Speculation resurfaced in December as Qatar announced its arrival on the global football stage, first by controversially winning the vote to stage the 2022 World Cup and then by agreeing a £125m shirt sponsorship deal with Spanish champions Barcelona, through its non-profitable arm, the Qatar Foundation.

Jan 2010 United visit Qatar for a sunshine training break, sparking speculation of interest in the club from the mega-rich emirate

Nov 2010 Having previously derided Qatar as “some unknown country”, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson visits Qatar to speak, for free, at a sport conference, where he endorses their bid to host the 2022 World Cup

Nov 2010 Glazers pay off costly PIK loans, fuelling rumours they’re preparing to sell

Nov 2010 The following day it emerges the Glazers’ long-standing spokesman, Tehsin Nayani, is to leave his post, with no plans to recruit a replacement

Jan 2011 United chief exec David Gill, on a trip to the Gulf, says Premier League clubs want a winter break. Ferguson says he is in favour of switching the season to the summer. It comes amid talk of European leagues rearranging calendars to aid a winter World Cup in Qatar