Euro 2020 Special

Ratcliffe Wants to Buy Manchester United

One of Britain’s richest men, Sr Jim Ratcliffe, wants to buy the club he supported as a boy, Manchester United. Through his company Ineos, he has formally entered the race to buy the club after present owners, the Glazer family, indicated last year that they were open to selling as they seek “strategic alternatives.”

That news was widely acclaimed by United fans who have long despised their ownership model.


Why are the Glazers so disliked?

The Glazer family, who are based in the US, are disliked by how they bought the club in the first place in 2005 – financing the deal with debt which they loaded on the club’s balance sheet. Millions of pounds in interest payments are required to service this debt each year.

At the same time, the Glazers, who rarely attend games, continue to take substantial amounts of money each year in the form of dividend payments whilst the club is starved of investment.

Their home ground of Old Trafford is badly in need of repair with a leaking roof and crumbling terracing, whilst one of the criticisms made by Cristiano Ronaldo in his controversial interview was that the training facilities had not been upgraded since he first left the club in 2009.

There have been numerous fan protests about the Glazers, some of which have turned ugly, most notably one before a home game with Liverpool in May 2021 that caused the match to be postponed.

And before the same fixture last August, thousands of supporters marched to the ground in protest.

Meanwhile, their involvement in the failed European Super League project did nothing to enhance their reputation in the eyes of the fan base.


Who is Sir Jim Ratcliffe?

The son of a joiner, who was born in Greater Manchester and grew up supporting the club, he built up a fortune through buying and selling cast-off businesses of other companies.

He then formed a chemicals company, Ineos, whose raw materials are used in a host of everyday products and which operates from 194 sites in 29 countries where they employ more than 26,000 people and has an annual turnover in excess of £50 billion.

Forbes magazine has estimated his personal fortune at £11 billion.


Other sporting interests

Ineos is already heavily involved in sports. They took over the Team Sky cycling team in 2019 and have a five-year partnership with Mercedes in Formula One. They are also backing Britain’s bid to win the prestigious yachting tournament, the Americas Cup in 2024.

In terms of football, the Ineos Group already owns French Ligue 1 side Nice and Swiss side Lausanne.


He tried to buy Chelsea

This is not the first time that Ratcliffe has tried to buy a Premier League club. He made a late bid to buy Chelsea last year, but he entered the bidding process too late to be considered and it had already effectively been sold to the consortium led by the American investor Todd Boehly.

The same group who handled that sale, American investment bank Raine Group, are also exclusively advising United.

The final price agreed for Chelsea was £4.25 billion, with £2.5 billion of that used to buy the club’s shares, and the remaining amount promised in the forms of investment in the team and infrastructure.

Any eventual sale of United would likely go for more than that. They are the best supported club in England, boast the third largest global following and generate substantial sums in commercial revenue and merchandising each year before taking into account the money they earn from gate receipts and global TV revenues.

Plus, under new manager Erik ten Hag, they appear to be a club on the rise again and one capable of winning major trophies over the next few years.


Other potential bidders

Ratcliffe is not the only party who might be interested in buying what is perceived as such a valuable asset.

Other US private investment companies, keen to get involved in the money making Premier League are also reported to be interest, whilst Middle East investors cannot be discounted.

There is at least one other consortium who may enter the fray, the Red Knights group, and even Elon Musk expressed an interest a few months ago.

He appears to have his hands full, though, at the moment, sorting out the mess he has made of Twitter and dealing with angry Tesla shareholders.




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