Sir Jim Ratcliffe is on the verge of finalizing a deal to acquire a 25% minority stake in Manchester United, with negotiations expected to conclude during the upcoming international break, potentially as early as next week. The Ineos Group, led by Ratcliffe, is set to invest approximately £1.25 billion for the stake. The Glazer family, United’s current owners, announced their intention to explore a sale on November 22, 2022.
In a bidding contest, Ineos Group and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani submitted offers of around £5 billion, falling short of the Glazer family’s valuation. Sheikh Jassim withdrew last month, citing a bid that reportedly doubled United’s $3.2bn (£2.64bn) stock market valuation. Ratcliffe initially aimed for a majority shareholding but adjusted it to the anticipated 25%, enhancing the likelihood of an agreement.
The specifics of the deal structure and any provisions for Ratcliffe to increase his stake remain unclear. It is anticipated that Ratcliffe will allocate around £245 million for stadium-related infrastructure projects. Reports suggest Ratcliffe is interested in taking control of the football operations side, potentially with involvement from Sir Dave Brailsford, the former performance director at British Cycling.
The deal’s confirmation date is yet to be formalized, but sources indicate it won’t occur on Monday out of respect for Sir Bobby Charlton’s funeral. Fans opposed to the Glazers plan to renew protests at the Premier League game against Luton on Saturday.
Despite uncertainties about the deal’s details, Ratcliffe’s potential influence on the club’s operations is generating anticipation. United’s on-field struggles this season, currently sitting eighth in the Premier League, have added pressure on the Glazers. Ratcliffe, a lifelong United fan, previously attempted to buy Chelsea in the last year.
As this development unfolds, key questions persist regarding Ratcliffe’s role, the dynamics with the Glazer family, and the process for potential stake increases. Ratcliffe’s business history suggests a decisive approach, while the Glazers have traditionally managed the club deliberately. The January situation with player Jadon Sancho, currently estranged from the squad, raises questions about decision-making on player matters and financial inputs. Ratcliffe’s confirmation of funding sources and potential additional investments in the stadium also remains a point of interest.