As Rafa Benitez left Inter Milan yesterday and a thousand stars prepare to leap through the chilly January transfer window, only one dramatic football story really matters. Manchester United are about to be sold.
Hobbled by the Glazer family for six years, the most popular club in the world will finally have the cash injection necessary to keep them ahead of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City – thanks to the Qatari Royal Family.
Though Benitez will grab the headlines after his six-month reign at the San Siro came to an end, these words from Old Trafford non-executive director Mike Edelson really set the heart pounding: "It's no secret that, at some time, the Glazer family will sell."
That opens the door for Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Qatari Royal Family. Mindful of FIFA’s unbelievable decision to grant them the 2022 World Cup, they now want to buy United to give themselves some credibility. But it comes with a price tag of £1.5billion.
The Glazers, watchmakers turned sporting leeches, have saddled United with a £752m debt since buying the club for £790million in 2005. Now, unbelievably, they stand to double their money.
Rumours of a sale began last week when the gloomy Glazers, hampered by huge interest payments when they mortgaged Old Trafford to buy the club, somehow managed to pay off £252m of their debt. Under pressure from the Red Knights group and supporters who now wear the traditional green and gold of the original club Newton Heath, the Glazers appear to have got the message. City sources, quoted in today’s Sun newspaper, said: "The belief is that they have already brought in extra finance from a third party in a bid to set the club up for a sale."
Edelson’s quote, which stunned the audience in a question and answer session at the Maccabi Sports Club in Prestwich on Tuesday, appears to seal the deal. Edelson has been Glazer’s mouthpiece since their controversial take-over nearly six years ago.
Qatar Holdings, which is just a sporting front for the oil-rich royal family, are now on the verge of owning the world’s biggest club. The price tag should be no problem. They are worth £40BILLION and earlier this month became Barcelona’s first ever shirt sponsors for a cool £125m. A source in Qatar said: "Qatar Holdings have made tentative moves for United before with little success but this time it looks like they could be going for it.
"Now they have landed the 2022 World Cup, the country wants to expand its influence in the game across the globe."
Sir Alex Ferguson, having sold Cristiano Ronaldo for a record £80m to Real Madrid a season and a half ago, may now, finally, have the money to make his table-topping troops happy. Even Wayne Rooney.
And the “Green and Gold until the club’s been sold” brigade can now finally return to Red Devil’s colours – though the club will soon be firmly out of the red.
Who the hell is Neal Collins (nealcol on twitter)? Listen online to 702.com tomorrow morning and see www.nealcollins.co.uk.