In a strategic move that could reshape the future of Manchester United, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos group has set its sights on obtaining a 25% stake in the football operations side of the club’s business from the Glazer family. The proposal, estimated at £1.3 billion, is gaining momentum, and Ratcliffe appears increasingly confident of moving closer to a potential buyout.
Notably, Ineos’ principal rival, Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, has withdrawn from the bidding process. His ambitious 100% offer failed to align with the Glazers’ valuation, leading to growing frustrations on both sides. With both parties initially tabling bids around £5 billion, the outcome remains uncertain.
The structural intricacies of an Ineos minority stake and whether the Glazers would be receptive to such an arrangement remain uncertain. However, Ineos aims to alleviate the concerns of supporters who have long been dissatisfied with the Glazers’ continued ownership of the club.
Former Manchester United captain, Gary Neville, expressed his skepticism on social media. He raised questions about the practicality of a minority stakeholder’s influence and how it would positively impact the club’s performance and organization. Neville’s preference, like many fans, is for a complete exit of the Glazer family from Manchester United.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust issued a statement, emphasizing that any resolution should prioritize the interests of the club and its supporters. The potential Ineos acquisition raises several questions that require clarification before supporters can assess its merits.
The Glazer family, who acquired the club in 2005 for £790 million, signaled their intention to explore selling the club in November 2022. Over the years, United supporters have voiced their discontent through demonstrations, both inside and outside Old Trafford.
The footballing side of Manchester United has faced challenges this season, with six losses in eleven games across all competitions, placing them in 10th position in the Premier League.
In a noteworthy development, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos officials, including Sir Dave Brailsford, Rob Nevin, and Jean Claude Blanc, visited Old Trafford in March, possibly signaling their determination to assume a significant role in the club.
Ineos already boasts an impressive sporting portfolio, including ownership of French Ligue 1 club Nice and Swiss club Lausanne. Their involvement extends to high-profile sailing endeavors, such as Ineos Britannia, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, with the ambition of securing the 2024 America’s Cup for Great Britain. Ineos also has a five-year partnership with the Formula 1 team Mercedes, in which they hold a 33% minority stake. In 2019, Ineos took over the British-based Team Sky in cycling, further showcasing their commitment to the world of sports.
The potential acquisition of a 25% stake by Ineos in Manchester United’s football business promises to be a pivotal moment in the club’s history, with numerous questions and expectations surrounding this significant development.