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18 Aug, 2022 10:38

New billionaire emerges as possible Man United savior

Jim Ratcliffe says he wants to complete a full takeover of the Red Devils
New billionaire emerges as possible Man United savior

Jim Ratcliffe, one of the UK's wealthiest businessmen, has confirmed that he is interested in completing a takeover of Manchester United amid media reports that the current owners, the Glazer family, are open to selling a minority stake in the club.

United, one of world football's biggest brands, are currently rooted to the foot of the Premier League table after losing both of their opening games under the leadership of new boss Erik ten Hag – a situation which has again raised questions among the club's fanbase about the ineffective ownership of the Glazers amid a perceived lack of financial investment in the team.

And Ineos boss Ratcliffe, who made a late bid to purchase Chelsea earlier this year before Todd Boehly's takeover was made official, has indicated that he would be interested in pursuing a deal if the club is potentially available.

If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” he said through a spokesperson.

If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”

Ratcliffe was born in Lancashire and is a lifelong fan of Manchester United. He is the majority shareholder in the chemical group Ineos, as well as owning a sports portfolio which includes French side Nice, Lausanne-Sport of Switzerland and the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team which itself has links to the Mercedes F1 team.

This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent,” his spokesperson added. “Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.

The need to press the reset button is clear, most fans will say. The ownership of American family the Glazers has been a tremendously unpopular one, and there are rumors of a demonstration at Old Trafford ahead of Monday's clash with rivals Liverpool. 

This would come after a May 2021 protest at Old Trafford which saw that season's home fixture against Liverpool postponed.

Manchester United has suffered from continual underperformance since the retirement of iconic coach Alex Ferguson in 2013, and haven't won any major silverware since 2017 while going through various high-profile managers like Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal. 

The club is currently struggling in the summer transfer market and look to be coming up short in their months-long pursuit of Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, while the future of wantaway forward Cristiano Ronaldo become an increasingly prominent subplot to distract from Ten Hag's opening matches as he looks to implement his style of play on the team.

However, Manchester United supporter groups have cautioned fans that any change in the boardroom must be an effective one.

While supporters have called for change, this of course has to be the right change,” a spokesperson for the Manchester United Supporters' Trust told the BBC.

Any prospective new owner has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club. They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories, and that investment must be real new money spent on the playing side and the stadium.

Finally, any new ownership structure must embed supporters, including a degree of fan share ownership, in their operating model.”

Manchester United is currently valued at around £5 billion ($6 billion), but according to Bloomberg, while the Glazers are considering inviting minority investment, there are currently no plans to sell a controlling stake in the club. 

News of potential bids for the club led to US billionaire Elon Musk joking on social media that he was pursuing a bid for the club, but later clarified that he wasn't serious.