The late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was a bastion of burning ambition and zeal as seen in his quest to but a majority stake in Manchester United.
If the buy-out deal had succeeded, it would have been one of the most shocking phenomenon in sporting history. It would have been uncharacteristic for a man like Colonel Gaddafi to have a stake in a “golden club” like Manchester United, but as the details have emerged, the controversial leader was only a "few hours" from doing so.
According to the man who brokered the Glazer family’s takeover of Manchester United, the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was only a “few hours” away from buying the biggest stake in Manchester United. The man, Mehmet Dalman, a Turkish-Cypriot financier, revealed how he flew to Libya to negotiate this mammoth deal with Gaddafi’s advisors in 2004.
The proposed plan was for Gaddafi to buy the 29.9% stake that belonged to John Magnier and JP McManus. A dispute over ownership of the racehorse Rock of Gibraltar had orchestrated a fall-out between the Irish tycoons and manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Because of this, the Irish tycoons had asked Mehmet Dalman to help them sell off their shares. And it had seemed close a deal for Gaddafi.
The deal did not come to fruition because the two parties failed to agree on a price for the controlling stake in United. "People don't realise how the [takeover] deal was a whisker away from going to Libya. Gaddafi almost bought the club. That's how close it got - literally, you're talking about a few hours,” Dalman said.
After the deal died down, Gaddafi’s insatiable quest for owning football clubs led him to buy the Italian club Perugia. In a 2005 interview with the Financial Times, Saadi Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader divulged some interesting details.
He said: "Seven or eight months ago we were about to buy shares in Manchester United. We kept it secret because I thought we were going to do it. But now it's impossible. I told my father it would be like buying the Church of England. It's very hard, maybe impossible because of the fans and the history, very difficult. It's a golden, golden, golden, golden club."
As Dalman said, that is how close it was. After failing to secure such a lucrative stake in the club, the deal eventually fell into the hands of the Glazer family. They acquired the 29.9% stake, before embarking on a full takeover of the club, much to the opposition of Manchester United fans in the UK and abroad.
Dalman is now the chairman of the Welsh club Cardiff City who ply their trade with English teams. One can only imagine how Manchester United could have been like if Gaddafi had succeeded with such an ambition of huge magnitude.
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