Two parties were long believed to be the front runners to takeover Manchester United, but a third party fronted by Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus has emerged as another contender.
Zilliacus, who founded and now chairs investment company Mobile FutureWorks, wants to buy the club in a 50-50 partnership that hands a significant amount of power over to the fans. “No more sheikhs and oligarchs controlling football!”, he tweeted on 23 March.
The determined Finn then called on his competitors to join his bid instead of ‘throwing away money in a mad rush to outbid each other’. Zilliacus also said he’d be willing to join another consortium if his own bid for United is unsuccessful.
Like Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Zilliacus has plenty of experience in the sporting field as he’s the former chairman of Finnish club HJK Helsinki and ex-owner of ice hockey club Jokerit. But, how does he stack up financially compared to his main rivals in the bidding for Manchester United?
Zilliacus’ net work isn’t publicly known. However, it’s believed that the Finn doesn’t boast the level wealth of Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim.
His appeal for the three leading parties to buy the club together, combined with his intention to get fans involved with the purchase would further support that the Finn lacks the financial might of his competitors.
Boyhood United fan Ratcliffe made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Chelsea last year following the exile of Roman Abramovich. He is one of Britain’s richest men, with his net worth estimated to be somewhere between £11bn (Forbes) and £6bn (Sunday Times).
According to the Sunday Times Rich List, he is the 27th richest man in the UK.
How much Sheikh Jassim himself is worth is somewhat unclear, but given his position as Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) chairman and the family that he’s a part of, it’s safe to assume he’s got access to billions.
His family, Qatar’s royals, is worth around £275bn as a collective, and Forbes estimates that his father, a former Prime Minister of Qatar, has a personal wealth of £892m.