Ratcliffe completes Man United purchase – seizing control of football operations from Glazers

Business

Petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has completed the purchase of a 27.7% stake in Manchester United through his INEOS conglomerate – enabling him to take control of football operations from the owning Glazer family. 

The deal ends a protracted saga that has engulfed United for 15 months without the full sale fans had been demanding to end the 19-year reign of the Glazers.

Sir Jim said becoming a co-owner was “a great honour and comes with great responsibility”.

“This marks the completion of the transaction, but just the beginning of our journey to take Manchester United back to the top of English, European and world football, with work-class facilities for our fans,” he said.

“Work to achieve those objectives will accelerate from today,” the 71-year-old added.

Meanwhile, executive co-chairman Joel Glazer, said: “I would like to welcome Sir Jim as co-owner and look forward to working closely with him and INEOS Sport to deliver a bright future for Manchester United.”

But Sir Jim is leading an overhaul of a club in decline – that is facing an 11th consecutive Premier League season ending without adding to their record 20 men’s league titles.

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Erik ten Hag’s side is sixth in the Premier League, battling for one of the four lucrative Champions League places.

The American Glazer ownership has cost United more than £1bn in interest payments and dividends while servicing the debt they loaded onto the club.

And upgrading Old Trafford is a priority with the stadium in need of modernisation after seeing rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City move into new venues this century with better facilities and more ability to generate revenue.

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What the Man Utd deal means for the club

The challenge is to usurp the now-dominant City – with their neighbours winning the last three titles.

But within weeks of Sir Jim agreeing his deal in principle, United have swooped to sign a City executive with Omar Berrada joining as chief executive.

United are also looking to bring Dan Ashworth in as sporting director and the recruitment expert was this week placed on gardening leave by Newcastle.

Sir Jim’s bid for partial ownership was favoured over a complete buyout attempt by Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani.

The deal is costing boyhood United fan Sir Jim $1.65bn (£1.31bn) including $200m (£158m) of initial investment in the club intended for the Old Trafford infrastructure and another $100m (£79m) by the end of the year.

United, which is still listed on the New York Stock Exchange, told investors that Sir Jim’s liquid assets are worth $4bn and his wealth exceeds that through his ownership of INEOS.

The INEOS sports portfolio includes teams in cycling, sailing and football.

The ownership of French club Nice could be problematic given European rules preventing clubs with the same owner of “decisive influence” playing in the same European competitions but UEFA is exploring relaxing the policy on multi-club ownership.

Sir Dave Brailsford, the mastermind behind Team GB’s golden Olympic cycling dominance who serves as INEOS director of sport, is set to join the United board.

INEOS was established in 1998 by Sir Jim, who built his fortune after working for Esso’s parent, manufacturing firm Courtaulds and being part of a buyout of a BP chemicals firm to create Inspec.

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