Sheikh Jassim: 15 interesting facts about Manchester United's potential new Qatari owner

Sheikh Jassim: 15 interesting facts about Manchester United's potential new Qatari owner

Ayoola Kelechi 06:00 - 14.06.2023

Son of one of the richest Arabs on the planet, no Wikipedia page, and Manchester United's answer to Manchester City's recent success, here are 15 interesting facts you need to know about the Red Devils' potential new owner

Qatari royal Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani is reportedly a few steps away from becoming the new owner of Manchester United, with a 100% takeover bid for the club from current owners Joel and Avram Glazer of the Glazer family gaining traction. 

Despite being on the verge of acquiring one of the most prominent clubs in the world, very little is known about the ma himself, leading many to ask, "Who really is Sheikh Jassim?”  

Here are 15 things about Sheikh Jassim that should tell you all you need to know about Manchester United’s potential new owner. 

1. Sheikh Jassim is the son of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

Sheikh Jassim is the son of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the fourth prime minister of Qatar, serving between 2007 and 2013. 

Although Sheikh Jassim appears to be a hermit, his father, also known simply as HBJ, is anything but. With an estimated net worth of up to $1.2 billion, the enigmatic member of the Qatari family is recognised by Forbes as the 20th richest Arab in the world. 

He is one of the most famous members of the Qatari royal family having also served as Foreign minister between 1992 and 2013

Sheikh Jassim is one of 15 children from Sheikh Hamad’s two marriages, which have produced seven sons and eight daughters. 

2. He was named after his grandfather

Given the similarities between the names of Sheikh Jassim and his father, Sheikh Hammad, it is well worth noting how he came about his name to clear up future confusion. 

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani’s father was Sheikh Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who in turn was the son of Sheikh Jaber bin Mohammed Al Thani, a founding member of the country. 

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani

As you can probably tell already, Sheikh Hamad’s name is the story of three generations of Sheikhs separated by "bin,” loosely translated as “son of,” meaning his name can also be taken to mean Sheikh Hamad, the son of Jassim, the son of Jaber Al Thani. 

In naming his son after his father, Sheikh Hamad ensured he would be Sheikh Jassim, the son of Hamad Al Thani, hence the name Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani. 

3. Studied at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, UK

Sheikh Jassim was born in 1982 and spent a great part of his formative years in the United Kingdom, schooling in Dorset before attending the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and graduating as an officer cadet. 

Following this, he then sat on the Credit Suisse investment bank board until 2005, before entering the banking industry soon after with the Qatar Islamic Bank.  

4. Sheikh Jassim is reportedly a lifelong fan of Manchester United

Most likely due to his upbringing, Sheikh Jassim is believed to be a lifelong fan of Manchester United, which would explain his persistence in chasing a deal to take over the club. 

The Sheikh is rumoured to have attended several matches at Old Trafford, while it has also been said that he regularly turns up to play in five-a-side matches in a Manchester United kit. 

A supposed image of Sheikh Jassim in a Manchester United shirt which Qatari officials refused to verify
A supposed image of Sheikh Jassim in a Manchester United shirt which Qatari officials refused to verify

While this is not entirely verified, it could give some insight into how he will run the club with the passion to see them at the top rather than as just another business venture to accommodate as long as they bring in money. 

There has been one picture of Sheikh Jassim in a Manchester United shirt, but there has been no confirmation of whether the photo is authentic or not

5. Sheikh Jassim’s bid was made through a foundation named after Manchester United stars

A further pointer to Sheikh Jassim’s fascination with the club is in the name of his foundation which is spearheading the bid to buy Manchester United. 

David Beckham and Phil Neville playing for Manchester United

The foundation is named the Nine Two Foundation, an homage to Manchester United’s famous class of ‘92 which produced players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Gary Neville, who formed the spine of the Red Devils’ treble winners in 1999. 

It could all be a marketing gimmick to sweeten his reputation with the fans, but even if it is, it still represents a well-thought-out scheme. 

6. Sheikh Jassim is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) 

Sheikh Jassim currently serves as the chairman of the Qatar Islamic Bank, which was founded in the same year that he was born and is located in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

The bank is regarded as one of the most affluent in the world, and it is mainly backed by the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns the largest shares in the publicly traded bank. 

In 2019, the bank was named the largest Islamic bank in Qatar and also received credit ratings of A- from Standard & Poor's, an American credit rating agency. 

Sheikh Jassim’s involvement with QIB started in 2005, when he was named chairman at only 23 years old, just after being on the board of Credit Suisse which QIA also has a vested interest in. 

7. Sheikh Jassim’s Networth 

Sheikh Jassim’s actual net worth is currently unknown, despite his bid of £5 billion to buy Manchester United. 

According to Forbes, his father is worth up to £892 million, while the entire Qatari royal family is believed to be worth an estimated £265 billion by the Sun. 

Sheikh Jassim is unlikely to be wealthier than his father, Sheikh Hamad, and is also unlikely to be better off than the Emir of Qatar and the current head of the family, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose estate is valued at £1.6 billion. 

In comparison, Chelsea's current owner, Todd Boehly, is worth an estimated £4.2 billion, while Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke is worth £10.23 billion, Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is reportedly also worth £17 billion, and Newcastle’s recent acquisition means they are backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which reportedly has up to £340 billion in its coffers. 

Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly
Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly is worth a reported £4.2 billion

Despite Sheikh Jassim’s seemingly modest finances compared to other owners, his bid of £5bn is an indication that he has the means and enthusiasm to back the club in the future. 

8. A personality shrouded in secrecy

Just like his finances, most of Sheikh Jassim’s life is lived in secrecy, and very little is known about the monarch other than his parentage, early history, and involvement with the Qatari Islamic Bank. Even the scale of this is not fully understood. 

His personal and family life is the stuff of rumours with no source able to reveal anything about Jassim’s possible marriage, children, or business dealings outside the QIB and the Nine Two Foundation backing his bid for Manchester United. 

Not that too many fans of the Red Devils will be too concerned about his avoidance of the public eye after watching noisy neighbours Manchester City replicate their 1999 treble while having an owner who has been spotted at the stadium only twice in 15 years

9. He does not have a Wikipedia page

To buttress how secretive the potential Manchester United buyer is, he does not have enough information about him for his own Wikipedia page. 

A search for his name returns to the profile of his more popular father, Sheikh Hamad, while a link with his name from his father’s profile on the information hub leads to the QIB’s information page which barely mentions Sheikh Jassim as well. 

This means that this article is probably your best bet for finding out whatever you need to know about potential Manchester United owner Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani.

10. Sheikh Jassim is going against his father’s advice to invest in Manchester United

Despite his lowkey lifestyle, Sheikh Jassim is apparently not afraid to stand up for what he wants and is believed to be in defiance of his father in his bid to take over Manchester United. 

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

While speaking on The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations, Sheikh Hamad pointed out that he was not in support of his son’s decision to invest in Manchester United. 

The former prime minister was quoted by The Athletic as saying, “I am not a football fan. I don’t like this investment. Maybe it will work well. But you know, some of my sons like this, they always discuss it with me. They’re pushing hard. This isn’t my speciality. Let me put it like this: I am an investor. If it will one day be a good investment, I will think about it. I will not look at it as something you do just as an advertisement.”

Sheikh Hamad had been part of the Qatar Investment Authority’s takeover and running of Paris Saint-Germain while he was chairman of the body, but he still has his misgivings about making investments in the sport beyond being an advertisement for the country. 

11. Sheikh Jassim is independent of the QIA which owns Paris Saint-Germain 

Despite his father’s links to the Qatar Investment Authority and the QIA being the major investors in the Qatar Investment Bank, Sheikh Jassim’s bid for Manchester United is believed to be independent of influence from the QIA. 

With PSG already owned by QIA, Sheikh Jassim’s presumed lack of involvement with the body is vital for his Manchester United bid thanks to UEFA’s rule against two teams with the same owners competing in the same tournament

Had Sheikh Jassim been linked to the QIA, Manchester United and PSG would have been unable to play in the UEFA Champions League together, for instance, but his independence from the QIA means such a scenario cannot occur. 

12. Sheikh Jassim’s bid will be completely debt free

One of the reasons why Sheikh Jassim’s bid is gaining traction with Manchester United fans is that the Qatari banker’s offer comes from personal financing, rather than borrowed money from an investment firm that would then be transferred to the club after the sale is completed. 

This was the situation with current owners, the Glazers family, who completed their 2005 takeover of Manchester United backed by borrowed investment funds, which they then listed as part of the club’s liability, driving the Red Devils total debt up from zero to £603 million within a year of their ownership. 

Man United co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer
Man United co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer plunged the club into debt to complete their 2005 takeover

The total debt of the club as of March 2023, when it released financials for the previous year, stood at £969.6 million, which includes its principal debt of £535.7m, a further £206.2m owed to creditors, and £227.7m owed as part of players’ transfers. 

The club could be afforded a rare opportunity to start afresh with Sheikh Jassim’s bid, which his statements say will be “completely debt-free via Sheikh Jassim's Nine Two Foundation,” and will also “look to invest in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience, and communities the club supports.”

13. He wants to kick Glazers out completely 

Another reason why many fans prefer Sheikh Jassim’s bid for Manchester United ahead of his competitor, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is that the banker’s bid will see him take over a 100% stake in the club immediately, while the businessman wants to take over only 60% of the club, which will still allow the current owners to retain a part of the club until he is able to complete a full takeover in the coming years. 

Manchester United fans protest Glazers ownership
Manchester United fans protest Glazers ownership

Ratcliffe’s bid is believed to be favoured by the Glazers for obvious reasons, but the long-term benefits of keeping the current owners on board beyond any sale seem non-existent to fans of the club. 

With Sheikh Jassim’s bid, the Glazers would have to hand over control of the club totally without securing any roles at the club, which would be a dream for the fans. 

14. His father has given King Charles more than £2.6m in cash gifts over time

Despite going up against a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire, Sheikh Jassim can rest easy knowing that there will not be any outside influence against his ambitions to buy Manchester United, given the close relationship between current ruler King Charles and his father, Sheikh Hamad. 

The pair met on many occasions while Sheikh Hamad was still acting in the capacity of prime minister, and the Qatari royal often gifted the future king at the time generous cash donations, believed to be about £2.6m in total. 

The entirety of these cash gifts has reportedly been donated to charity. 

15. Sheikh Jassim could be Manchester United’s answer to Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour

If Sheikh Jassim’s bid is successful, it would be easy to see how the Qatari royal is the Red Devils’ perfect match for the Cityzens’ current dominance under Emirati benefactor Sheikh Mansour. 

Two dynamic but camera-shy owners who are willing to back the clubs they govern, backed by an endless stream of resources to make wholesale improvements to their teams whenever needed. 

Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour
Sheikh Mansour has made Manchester City a force in English football

The red half of Manchester could finally have an owner whose first priority is to see the club thriving as a football team not just a marginally profitable investment, as evidenced by another part of his statement of intent to the club, which states that his vision is for the Red Devils “to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.”

A position that many would say is currently occupied by Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City.  

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