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British billionaire Ratcliffe linked with United purchase

Updated: 2022-08-19 09:42
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Jim Ratcliffe. [Photo/Agencies]

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is interested in buying a stake in Manchester United, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The club's owners, the American Glazer family, are under pressure with United sitting bottom of the Premier League after two games of the season. Bloomberg reported they would consider selling a minority stake, opening the door for Ratcliffe.

The Times first reported Ratcliffe's interest on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Ratcliffe, Britain's richest man, told The Times: "If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer. 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."

However, the Glazer family is not ready to concede the controlling stake in Manchester United and has an expectation of valuing the club at more than double its current market cap of $2.2 billion, another source said.

In May 2022, Chelsea Football Club was sold to a consortium led by an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital for $3.2 billion (2.5 billion pounds).

The Glazers have been the target of intense criticism for their failure to invest in the team who has not won a trophy in five years. United's net debt had grown 11 percent to about 496 million pounds ($598 million) by the end of March.

The owners have also been criticized for not improving the Old Trafford stadium, the biggest club ground in the country with a capacity of around 75,000 fans.

Ratcliffe, head of chemical company INEOS, is from the Manchester area and a long-standing United fan.

Ratcliffe failed this year in an attempt to buy London club Chelsea which was ultimately bought by an investment group led by LA Dodgers co-owner Boehly.

United finished sixth last season in its worst Premier League campaign with respect to points earned, failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League.

It won the last of its record 20 topflight league titles in 2013, the year Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager after more than 26 years in charge.

The club hired manager Erik ten Hag from Ajax in a bid to turn around its fortunes but the Dutchman has not yet succeeded in imposing his playing style, with United losing its opening two games after conceding six goals.

On Monday, United hosts its archrival Liverpool, who scored nine times without reply in their two league meetings last season.

Shares of Manchester United jumped 6.96 percent on Wednesday.

INEOS already owns French Ligue 1 soccer club Nice, Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, the former Team Sky cycling franchise, and also sponsors Formula 1 constructors' world champion Mercedes.


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