Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s company INEOS has officially entered the bidding to buy Manchester United.
Sky Sports News has confirmed a story first published by The Times that Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, wants to complete the purchase of the Premier League giants.
The Glazer family, United’s current owners, announced in November they are willing to listen to offers for the club after a 17-year reign dominated by fan protests and declining on-pitch performance.
Ineos, Ratcliffe’s chemical firm, announced it had formally lodged interest with the Glazers.
“We have formally put ourselves into the process,” a spokesperson said.
Ratcliffe has made no secret of the fact he would be interested in buying United. He supported them as a boy and is understood to remain a fan.
The 70-year-old billionaire was among bidders for Chelsea when their ownership came up for grabs after the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
His offer, of £4.25bn, was rejected under the sale process ordered by the Government when Roman Abramovich was sanctioned for his links to Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow.
Ratcliffe is no stranger to big sporting investments. He also owns cycling team INEOS Grenadiers, Ligue 1 side Nice, who he took over in 2019, and FC Lausanne-Sport, a Swiss Super League club.
As well as Ratcliffe, Saudia Arabia sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has previously confirmed his country’s intentions of taking over United – valued at around £5bn. Technology giant Apple has been another reported interested party.
‘Ratcliffe has always been interested in Man Utd’
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“Sir Jim Ratcliffe is one of the richest men in the UK.
“He has tried in the past to buy Chelsea. He was unsuccessful with a late bid to buy Chelsea.
“When it was suggested that Man Utd were looking for investors, maybe a new owner, he has made no secret of the fact that he wants to buy Manchester United.
“He also owns Nice in France. He owns the Swiss team Lausanne and INEOS the cycling team. He’s got a stake in Mercedes F1 team.
“So, he’s got a lot of interest in sport, and he grew up as a Man Utd fan. He’s always said that he’d like to buy United.”
Neville: Manifesto key for new Man Utd owners
Speaking after the Glazers announced they were open to selling United, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said any potential new owners must communicate their plans to supporters.
“I think what Manchester United fans need to see is a manifesto from the new owners,” Neville said in an interview with Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy.
“Manchester United can’t be handing over to an owner that basically screams against what the club stands for or what the club wants. So there are manifesto pledges that I think are really important – like the fan voice, the fan experience, and maybe even positions for fans on the board.
“But the sporting project needs to improve. What is it going to be? Are the new owners not going to take dividends? Are they going to make sure it’s a debt-free football club and that they’re re-investing? Maybe there’s a new stadium that needs to be built or a new training ground.
“These are pledges I can think of off the top of my head that are really important for anybody bidding for Manchester United. It’s a manifesto that needs to be put forward so that the fans can understand.
“There are going to be many bids in the many billions and I think if the Glazers want to exit in the right way, it would be to sell it to a party that isn’t only the highest bidder, but if they can get parties near the end to get to a figure they like, then it would be very nice for them to put something forward to the season-ticket holders.
“Because the reality of it is, if the Glazers want to do this right, they have to make sure the club is going to a party whereby the fans don’t believe they’re being lumped with another owner they don’t like. “