Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has encouraged investors in the country to follow through with buying either Manchester United or Liverpool, after England's two biggest clubs were put up for sale in recent weeks.
The contentious Glazer ownership at Manchester United has been deeply unpopular ever since arriving in 2005, and has sparked widespread protests from United fans for the past 17 years.
This week, the club announced that they would be examining potential "strategic alternatives", with the widespread understanding being that the Glazer family are now looking to sell the club.
Merseyside rivals Liverpool have also moved to look for new owners in recent weeks, with John W Henry's Fenway Sports Group looking to leave the club after 12 years at Anfield.
Given the size of both clubs, it would take huge investment to purchase either. This has led to consortiums from the Middle East being linked with the purchase of United and Liverpool - similar to those seen at Newcastle or Manchester City.
Saudi Arabia have been linked with both, after their move into Premier League football with Newcastle last year, and their sports minister has now backed a move to buy one of the clubs.
Manchester United: Saudi Minister for Sport speaks on takeover rumours
Speaking to Sky Sports, Saudi Arabia's minister for sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud spoke on the rumours that bodies in the country may seek to purchase either Manchester United or Liverpool.
When asked if he knew of any imminent bids for either club, he said:
I don't know - I hope so!
If there are investors and the numbers add up and it makes good business, then the private sector could come in.
We will benefit. Sports and Saudi will benefit from these collaborations and these ownerships, because we see with these programmes already with Newcastle.
There will no doubt be a mixed reaction to these comments, given the nature of the takeover.
🗣 "We will benefit, sports in Saudi will benefit from these collaborations."
The Saudi Arabia Sports Minister has welcomed the possibility of a takeover of Manchester United and Liverpool pic.twitter.com/LL3X6nND8A
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 25, 2022
Of course, the immense wealth behind Saudi Arabia would aid in improving the standards of both teams - as seen plainly at Newcastle United. On top of this, the ownership at Newcastle have shown a clear desire to improve standards off the pitch as well.
But the presence of Saudi money in the Premier League has naturally made punters and pundits alike uncomfortable ever since the takeover of Newcastle in 2021, due to the country's abysmal human rights record. Even today, the country's backward policies towards women and the LGBTQ+ community, and hostility in Yemen, as well as the 2018 assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, have led to widespread condemnation, making the prospect of more influence from the country in English football a sensitive topic.
Saudi Arabia have been accused of "sportswashing" in the past, as they have hosted major sporting events in order to improve their image abroad and distract from what is going on in the country. The Newcastle takeover is one example, while the hosting of an annual Formula 1 Grand Prix is the most recent. The 2022 race went ahead despite a missile strike nearby by an insurgent group.
Off the back of Qatar's contentious hosting of this year's FIFA World Cup, Saudi Arabia are exploring hosting the 2030 edition.
You would be hard pressed to find a better way to make your mark on English football than by taking control of either Manchester United or Liverpool - but the identity of the club's prospective buyers may have fans understandably wary.