Saudi Arabia says its investors want to take over Manchester United and Liverpool – and hope Cristiano Ronaldo will come to play in its domestic league.
In an interview with Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions. Sky News – The sovereign wealth fund already owns Newcastle and now funds a separate golf tournament.
It is United’s acquisition – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo’s interest is Prince Abdulaziz.
Ronaldo will be keen to sign for a Saudi Pro League side after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following his move from 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 Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal are understood to be exploring a deal to sign Ronaldo.
The Saudi league will feature both Ronaldo and Messi, who are still signed to Paris Saint-Germain but have already signed for the Saudi Arabian promotion.
“It has greatly benefited the kingdom in terms of tourism,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “If they can, I’d like to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
Newcastle was bought by the Saudis last year through the Public Investment Fund, which the Premier League says is not controlled by the government, despite being 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 either – or both – to come under Saudi ownership.
“I hope, if the investors are there and the numbers add up, it will do good business,” he said. “Then the private sector can come in, or companies can come in from the kingdom.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone watches the Premier League. It’s the most watched league and these teams have huge fans in the Kingdom. So it will benefit everyone.”
“I can say we have a strong league. It’s not the strongest in Asia. You know, we’re building towards a good future and we’re seeing what the future holds for that.”
He added: “You know, like everybody else, I’ve heard about these speculations on the news. I don’t have any details on any of the reports coming out. But you know, all I can say is that we have an ambassador for tourism in the Kingdom with the Ministry of Tourism. As is Messi – it has many benefits.
“In terms of tourism for the kingdom, I’d like to see them both play in the Saudi league if they can, and you know, if the top players come and play in the Saudi league, it will strengthen our programs. It does.”
Avram Glazer on selling Man Utd and confronting Ronaldo
Manchester United co-owner Avram Glazer has spoken out for the first time since announcing the club is up for sale.
Sky News He was tracked down near his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, and asked if now is the best time to sell the club.
He said: “As we said yesterday, the board decided to go through a process and look at different strategic options – that’s what we’re doing.”
Asked why the club hadn’t been sold earlier, he repeated the answer: “We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Glazers were angered by Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments in his recent interview and Ronaldo left United this week by mutual consent.
But Avram Glazer dismissed the striker’s claim – echoed by many fans – that his family “doesn’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 all the best in the future.”