The Qatari government is looking to purchase an English Premier League club, and Tottenham Hotspur could be the recipient of a billion-pound takeover bid.
Qatari Sports Minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali has given quotes to the Associated press reporter Rob Harris indicating that the middle eastern country would like to expand into England's league, and Tottenham Hotspur might be the most tempting target (emphasis mine):
Q: In the UK do people ask you do invest in Premier League clubs?
al-Ali: I have a lot of interviews (sic) and people doing presentations for me. I'm very open to listen because some are good opportunities. And we in Qatar we look for good opportunities. I meet a lot of them and they do presentations from buying clubs to new clubs to all kinds of sports, and introducing new sports in Qatar. And a lot of opportunities. We are open we listen. Some of them it's not even time for it. And some of the opportunities are really good.
Q: Does Qatar want to own a Premier League club?
al-Ali: Yes, of course. Personally speaking I like the English Premier League personally speaking. Since I was young I have jerseys. I'm not going to tell you which clubs. I said it once and the guy was upset with me because he was an Arsenal ... I like all jerseys of Tottenham and I had 2 of them.
Q: Do you want to be a Premier League club owner?
al-Ali Of course. Definitely. 100 percent. It's very challenging. I don't know if at that time I would have the energy really to be in the spotlight, especially the English league you are under pressure always.
Q: Why do you want to own a Premier League team?
Here in Qatar we are very very good in taking something and really transforming it into something very very good. We take it to another step. Even if it's good we take it to another step.
And you can see what Paris Saint-Germain for 20 years did not win the championship. With respecting the culture, we became better now understanding the concerns of the people. In any investment really. In real estate, we have now a good experience in England and we understand the concerns and their hopes. We understand that very well. We are learning.
I don't think we are going to stop, we are just going to continue looking for good opportunities. Of course England, the emir was there and of course it's one of our best hubs for Qataris.
The rumored £1 billion takeover bid is reported in the Sun, which is behind a paywall and anyway isn't the most reliable of sources. Take all of this with a grain of salt for now, but there's smoke rising in the air, and all indications are that Qatar is serious about trying to bid for a Premier League club.
The Qatari government already owns Ligue 1 club Paris St. Germain through Qatar Sports Investments, which they have converted into a Champions League contender. This may provide a barrier to purchase if they have Champions League ambitions for their new club – UEFA regulations seem to prohibit one ownership group owning more than one club in any UEFA competition due to conflict of interest.
Spurs have been the center of two rumored takeover bids: one by investment group Cain Hoy and another from an American consortium backed by the Carlyle Group. With current owner Joe Lewis claiming that it would take a billion pounds for him to sell the club, it would likely take a group with nearly unlimited wealth like the Qatari government to make it happen.
With Spurs planning a new stadium and showing a clear ambition for future growth, it's not at all unlikely that they could be viewed as an attractive target for takeover. It's premature to say that this is an actual thing that is happening, but we now know that Qatar wants to get into the Premier League, and the quotes from al-Ali strongly hint that they're at least looking at the lilywhite side of North London.