Billionaire Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United, according to The Times and Bloomberg. He wants to discuss with the Glazers, current owners, a minority stake with the long-term objective of taking full control of the club.
Soon a thunderclap in England? The Times reports that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, owner of Ineos Group and OGC Nice, is interested in taking a stake in the club from Manchester United, if the Glazers, current owners, are willing to sell the club in crisis.
“Jim is definitely a potential buyer”
The pressure is mounting on the American owners after another disastrous start to Manchester United’s Premier League season. Former manager Michael Knighton has already announced his intentions to buy the club and take control of it. Jim Ratcliffe, lifelong Red Devils supporter and CEO of Ineos, is now set to join the consortium.
Ratcliffe was one of the parties interested in buying Chelsea this year and had previously distanced himself from the United takeover. But in a new statement, he has now said he will be a willing investor. “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” Ratcliffe’s spokesman told The Times.
The announcement comes just hours after media reports that the Glazers, owners of United for 17 tumultuous years, are considering selling a minority stake in the club. It is admitted that preliminary discussions have taken place on the sale of shares and the bringing in of new investments.
However, hope for a change in management remains dim, with the current owners determined not to cede control completely. This is despite further protests expected from supporters, a number of whom are expected to demonstrate outside Old Trafford ahead of Monday night’s game against Liverpool.
Competition for Ratcliffe
Also interested in a takeover, ex-manager Michael Knighton recently explained how he hopes to oust the Glazers, although there are reservations about his ability to strike a deal, having sadly failed in a takeover attempt in 1989. Nevertheless, he revealed he was in talks with a number of billionaires to try to match Manchester United’s £6 billion assessed price, and said he hoped to “smoke out” Ratcliffe.
“These are small billionaires that I’ve been talking to for three or four months now,” Knighton told ITV News. “When I was approached by groups of supporters, oddly, saying ‘look, our club is dying on its feet’, could you do something? I made a few phone calls and since then, I kept bringing this consortium together. We’re not the great Sir Jim Ratcliffe. We don’t have those resources. We’re not a sovereign wealth fund of a nation state that has oil revenues of two billion a day . The point is, someone had to take a stand.”
As for the possibility of including Ratcliffe in the takeover, Knighton added: “If we can convince the great Sir Jim to buy Manchester United, my consortium will be happy to have achieved its objective. We will make the offer with our own consortium but, I tell you, we don’t have the resources available to do all that is necessary.”