Updated December 25th, 2023 at 11:01 IST
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe finalises deal to acquire 25% stake in Manchester United
Ratcliffe's INEOS group will assume control over the club's football operations, bringing an end to a period of uncertainty.
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has finalised a deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United, marking a significant move in his efforts to rejuvenate the fortunes of the English Premier League football club. As part of the agreement, Ratcliffe's INEOS group will assume control over the club's football operations, bringing an end to a period of uncertainty that began when the club's majority owners, the Glazer family, announced in November 2022 that they were exploring strategic alternatives.
Criticism had mounted against the Glazers for overseeing a decline in Manchester United's performance since the departure of former manager Alex Ferguson in 2013, following a period marked by unparalleled success.
Ratcliffe, 71, expressed his enthusiasm for the deal, stating, "As a lifelong supporter of Manchester United, I am pleased that we have secured an arrangement with the club's board to oversee football operations." He highlighted the untapped potential of the club and stressed on his intention to leverage INEOS's global expertise to facilitate improvements, alongside providing financial resources for future investments at Old Trafford.
The acquisition values Manchester United, a club with 20 English league titles, at $6.3 billion, inclusive of debt. Ratcliffe's initial investment of $200 million is slated for completion upon finalisation of the deal, with an additional $100 million earmarked for disbursement by the close of 2024.
While Qatar's Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani had expressed interest in purchasing the club, he withdrew his $6 billion offer, leaving Ratcliffe as the chosen stakeholder. Notably, INEOS already has affiliations with other football entities, including French Ligue 1's Nice, Swiss Super League's FC Lausanne-Sport, and Ivory Coast Ligue One's Racing Club Abidjan, in addition to its successful cycling team, the Grenadiers.
United's executive chairs, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, acknowledged Ratcliffe's substantial financial commitment and commercial expertise. However, since Ferguson's exit, the club has undergone managerial changes without reclaiming its former glory, securing limited silverware over an 11-year span.
The Glazers' steadfast refusal to sell the club had provoked dissatisfaction among fans, leading to protests amid escalating net debt surpassing $600 million. The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has welcomed Ratcliffe's investment but seeks clarification on the new operational structure and its implications for the club's future.
Currently managed by Dutch coach Erik ten Hag, Manchester United finds itself in eighth place in the Premier League, trailing the leaders by 12 points, despite significant transfer expenditures exceeding 1 billion euros over six years. Ratcliffe concluded, "Our collective ambition is unequivocal: to restore Manchester United to its rightful place at the pinnacle of English, European, and global football."
(With Reuters inputs)
Published December 25th, 2023 at 10:57 IST