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The third edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and main financial hub, today. Among those attending the conference are representatives of Manchester United, sparking further speculation that the Glazers could be willing to consider a takeover by the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Despite rebuffing two previous takeover attempts from Saudi Arabia, the Glazer family, who took full control of Manchester United in 2005, are said to be willing to examine any new offer that may be put towards them, especially if it’s in the region of £3billion. The official stance, however, is that the club isn’t for sale.

United officials have previously visited Future Investment Initiative conferences in Saudi Arabia so this isn’t a new development. Their attendance to this year’s event is being linked to the Crown Prince’s interest in the club.

Kevin Glazer recently put his 13 per cent stake of United – worth £270million – on the New York Stock Exchange which many observers feel could be the first signs of the Glazer’s looking at a way out. They are despised by the majority of United fans who have seen their club fall from greatness under their ownership. Despite their failings, United remains one of the most famous and glamorous football clubs in the world which is why the Saudi’s wants to press ahead with a purchase. The Glazers are being presented with a credible way out and it is unlikely that anyone with such financial clout will come in with better offers any time soon.

The FII conference, nicknamed “Davos in the desert”, is expected to draw dozens of US and western business executives who stayed away from last year’s event following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA reportedly concluded at the time that the Crown Prince must have authorised the operation although the murder was blamed on a rogue operation. The Crown Prince denied involvement but told CBS television last month that he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia”

Any Saudi takeover of United would be seen as a controversial move back in the UK. However, so desperate are United fans to see the back of the Glazers, they would no doubt welcome a takeover with open arms, regardless.

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