Jim Ratcliffe, and his company, Ineos, have officially entered the race to acquire Manchester United Football Club. The current owners, the Glazer family, announced in November that they were open to offers for the club.
Ratcliffe, a lifelong fan of Manchester United, had previously attempted to purchase Chelsea Football Club, but was unsuccessful. Ineos confirmed that they have formally submitted themselves as potential buyers.
Ratcliffe’s interest in Manchester United comes after a failed £4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) bid to acquire Chelsea last year. Born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, Ratcliffe is one of the wealthiest men in the United Kingdom and may be more favorably received by Manchester United supporters compared to the Glazers, who have faced numerous fan protests during their ownership.
The Glazers completed a leveraged takeover of the club in 2005, which resulted in significant debt for the club, and they have been criticized for not investing enough in the team.
In November, Manchester United released a statement that the board would “consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the company.” The club has not won the Premier League since 2013 and their last major trophy was six years ago.
However, under the guidance of manager, Erik ten Hag, Manchester United has seen a resurgence in form and currently sits in fourth place in the league.
Ineos, which already owns French team Nice and Swiss team FC Lausanne-Sport, as well as the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, is looking to expand its sporting portfolio. Ratcliffe may face competition from Saudi Arabian investors, as the country’s sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, has stated that there may be interest in purchasing Manchester United and Liverpool, which are also up for sale.
American investment firm, Raine Group, which handled the sale of Chelsea, is exclusively advising Manchester United, which is valued at around £5 billion.
Former Manchester United player, Peter Schmeichel, who is currently acting as an ambassador for the club, has defended the club’s decision to set up a luxury lounge at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Schmeichel stated that it is important for such a well-known and successful brand to have a presence in events like the World Economic Forum. He also expressed his personal preference for the club to be owned by fans, but acknowledged that it would be an unlikely outcome.