Near Acquisition of Minority Stake
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire and founder of the Ineos chemicals group, is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to purchase a minority stake in Manchester United.
This development would leave the Glazer family with the majority control of the Premier League club.
Sheikh Jassim’s Withdrawal
Reports emerged on Saturday night that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani, a Qatari businessman and Ratcliffe’s main rival in the battle to buy Manchester United from the Glazers, was withdrawing from the race due to frustrations with the lack of progress.
His initial hopes of acquiring 100 percent ownership of the club with a bid worth around £5 billion have been abandoned.
Ratcliffe’s Proposed Stake
Multiple sources, including Sky Sports, suggest that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is prepared to pay £1.3 billion for a 25 percent stake in Manchester United.
This marks a significant shift from his previous interest in the Glazers’ 69 percent stake, as he now appears inclined to take a minority share.
Board Meeting for Final Agreement
A board meeting is reportedly scheduled for the upcoming week to reach a final agreement with Ratcliffe. It’s worth noting that Ratcliffe is a lifelong fan of Manchester United, and he made a late bid to buy Chelsea last year before their eventual takeover by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
In addition to his sporting interests, Ratcliffe has owned French club OGC Nice since 2019 and Swiss Super League outfit FC Lausanne-Sport since 2017.
Ineos and Sporting Ventures
Ratcliffe and Ineos also have ownership of the Team Ineos cycling team (formerly Team Sky) and are involved in various sporting sponsorship deals, including partnerships with the Mercedes Formula 1 team and New Zealand rugby. They also own the Ineos Britannia sailing team.
Long-Running Ownership Exploration
Almost a year has passed since the Glazers announced their exploration of “strategic alternatives” for Manchester United, which included external investment or a full sale.
This process has seen intense competition between Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, who both submitted multiple bids for control of the club.
Sheikh Jassim’s Ambitious Bid
Sheikh Jassim had expressed a desire to take full control of the club, offering a bid of £5 billion through the Nine Two Foundation.
His proposal exceeded the market value, and he pledged to clear United’s debts and invest £1.4 billion in improving the club’s infrastructure.
Ratcliffe’s Adapted Approach
Initially focusing on acquiring the Glazers’ majority stake, Ratcliffe adapted his bid strategy to pursue a minority share.
This shift aims to bring the prolonged process to a conclusion after 11 months of negotiations. Throughout this time, discontented United fans have continued to protest against the current ownership.
Challenges for Manchester United
The club, which ended a six-year trophy drought by winning the Carabao Cup last February and secured a Champions League return under manager Erik ten Hag, has faced difficulties this season.
United encountered their worst start to a season since 1989, coupled with an ongoing injury crisis and off-field issues.
They currently sit in mid-table after losing four of their first eight Premier League games.
Future Matches and Prospects
United are set to face Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen in the Champions League, followed by a home Manchester derby against City.
Their Carabao Cup defense remains alive with a last-16 clash against Newcastle, a repeat of last season’s final that United won 2-0.
The Pending Deal
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s potential investment in Manchester United is a significant development in the ongoing saga of club ownership, with the Glazer family set to retain control.
This move marks a potentially transformative moment for the club’s future and fan sentiment, as well as a new chapter in the story of English football’s most iconic institutions.**