Monaco-based British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has expressed his interest in buying Premier League side Manchester United, having been a fan of the club since his childhood.
Having made his 13.5 billion pound fortune through his chemical engineering company Ineos Group, of which he is the CEO and majority shareholder, Sir Jim already owns cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport and Ligue 1 side Nice, who he took over in 2019.
The 69 year-old, who is a resident of the Principality, tried to buy a Premier League team earlier in the year, but saw his last-minute £4.25 billion bid to buy Chelsea rejected. Now Sir Jim has set his sights on buying his boyhood club, with the only obstacle being United’s current owners not wanting to sell, despite calls and even protests from the club’s supporters.
United has been owned by the Glazer family since 2005, but the club has been in a state of decline for years now since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 and now a shocking start to the new season has led to intensified criticism of the Glazers and their perceived lack of investment in the team.
Supporters of the club have made their sentiments clear through multiple protests against the Glazers’ ownership in recent years, including one in May 2021 which caused United’s match against Liverpool to be postponed.
Those sentiments have not yet disappeared, as United fans are planning another protest against the American family during the club’s high profile fixture against Liverpool on Monday, August 22, at Old Trafford.
News of Sir Jim’s interest in buying the club follows a Bloomberg report that the Glazer family are willing to sell a minority stake in United.
Sir Jim’s spokesperson told The Times that “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” adding “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership. This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent. Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”
According to Bloomberg, any potential deal could see United valued at up to five billion pounds, which would not be beyond Sir Jim’s budget.
Featured image: Jim Ratcliffe before a Nice match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes