Shares in Manchester United have surged in New York amid reports Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is considering a takeover of the club.
The Sun newspaper reported Mohammed bin Salman, currently battling claims his country has murdered a prominent journalist, was due to meet club co-owner and co-chair Avram Glazer in the kingdom.
It claimed the prince was interested in supporting the Saudi purchase of a major stake worth about £3bn or a full takeover.
The paper said he was keen to take on the spending power of fierce local Premier League rivals Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour for the past decade.
The Glazer family, which has controlled United since 2005, was yet to comment on the report.
Shares in the Premier League club rose more than 5% at one stage in early US trading.
The structure of the club’s 2012 listing gave little away in terms of voting rights, so any Saudi-led approach would have to be done through the Glazers and their representatives directly.
They control 97% of the club.
United had a market value of $3.5bn (£2.7bn) ahead of Monday’s session and any takeover deal would be likely to cost a buyer far more than that sum.
Sky Sports News said it understood the club had not been put up for sale and any bid would have to be north of £4bn to even be considered.
United announced last month during its full-year results it was expecting another period of record revenue in 2018/19 despite a gruelling start to the season on the pitch that has left club manager Jose Mourinho under pressure.