Champions League: Who will win it?
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Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, crown prince of the state of Johor in Malaysia, has announced his intention to purchase a minority stake in Manchester United. The 36-year-old, who was recently at the centre of speculation involving a possible takeover of La Liga side Valencia, singled out the Red Devils after admitting that he is open to investing in European football on Friday.
United have been owned by the Glazer family since 2005, with their reign characterised by widespread discontent among supporters.
However, the Red Devils could be set to change hands in the near future if Tunku Ismail follows through with his plan to become a shareholder.
He revealed his desire to purchase a three to five per cent stake in the club, claiming that the 20-time Premier League champions are sustainable enough to warrant a significant investment.
“Manchester United is a club which will take decades for its commercial value to go down,” he said. “In terms of sustainability they are superb. So that is why I will try to have a meeting.”
Tunku Ismail already owns Malaysian outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim, one of the country’s most successful clubs.
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Last season they scooped their seventh successive domestic title and unveiled their brand-new Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, which holds up to 40,000 supporters.
Tunku Ismail’s ownership has seen the club transform from mid-table stragglers into the dominant force of Malaysian football, with a steady flow of investment helping to recruit the best local players alongside a handful of talented foreigners.
Meanwhile, United have consistently been ranked among the world’s richest clubs but saw their income plummet by around £112million last year, a huge drop when compared to the other sides near the top of football’s rich list.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all placed above the Red Devils as three of the sport’s most valuable clubs.
It was also revealed earlier this month that the club’s debt has increased by 16 per cent to £455.5m, which has been impacted by the financial effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ed Woodward explained in a statement earlier this month that he feels United are making steady progress on and off the pitch under the current setup, but highlighted the negative effects of the pandemic on the club and football as a whole.
“”As we approach a full year since our last game with fans at Old Trafford, we reflect on an extraordinarily challenging 12 months for football and society as a whole,” he said.
“The rapid rollout of vaccines in the UK and beyond gives us confidence that we are now on a path towards normality, including the return of fans to stadia.
“While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business.
“We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford.
“The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving academy and women’s team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch.”
It remains to be seen whether Tunku Ismail is prepared to act on his interests and tempt the Glazers into selling a minority stake in United in the near future.
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