Manchester United announces agreement to acquire 25% of Sir Jim Ratcliffe

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Manchester United have confirmed that they have reached an agreement for Sir Jim Ratcliffe to purchase a 25% stake in the club.

The deal, which is thought to be worth around £1.25bn, will see Ratcliffe assume control of footballing operations at Man United, while it also includes the promise of $300m (£237.7m) of future investment into Old Trafford.

Advanced negotiations between the two parties have been ongoing for a number of months now, with Ratcliffe emerging as the front-runner to purchase a stake in the club ahead of Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The current owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family, initially signalled that they would be open to investment – or a complete sale – more than a year ago, with speculation over the future leadership of the club having raged ever since.

However, the news on Christmas Eve brings an end to the long-running questions over Ratcliffe’s role, with the club confirming that the INEOS chairman will take over all footballing operations.

Ratcliffe will purchase 25% of Man United’s Class B shares and initiate a tender offer for 25% of the club’s Class A shares, while he has also promised significant investment into the stadium, which has been increasingly criticised in recent years.

The deal values Man United at around £5bn – more than six times the £790m sum spent by the Glazer family to buy the club in 2005.

“As a local boy and a lifelong supporter of the club, I am very pleased that we have been able to agree a deal with the Manchester United board that delegates us management responsibility of the football operations of the club,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.

“Whilst the commercial success of the club has ensured there have always been available funds to win trophies at the highest level, this potential has not been fully unlocked in recent times.

“We will bring the global knowledge, expertise and talent from the wider INEOS Sport group to help drive further improvement at the club, while also providing funds intended to enable future investment into Old Trafford.

We are here for the long term and recognise that a lot of challenges and hard work lie ahead, which we will approach with rigour, professionalism and passion. We are committed to working with everyone at the club – the Board, staff, players and fans – to help drive the club forward.

“Our shared ambition is clear: we all want to see Manchester United back where we belong, at the very top of English, European and world football.”

Executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer added: “We are delighted to have agreed this deal with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS.

“As part of the strategic review we announced in November 2022, we committed to look at a variety of alternatives to help enhance Manchester United, with a focus on delivering success for our men’s, women’s and Academy teams.

“Sir Jim and INEOS bring a wealth of commercial experience as well as significant financial commitment into the club. And, through INEOS Sport, Manchester United will have access to seasoned high-performance professionals, experienced in creating and leading elite teams from both inside and outside the game.

Manchester United has talented people right across the club and our desire is to always improve at every level to help bring our great fans more success in the future.”

Of the $300m (£237.7m) future investment into the club’s infrastructure at Old Trafford, $200m (£157.8m) will be paid upon completion of the takeover, while the remaining $100m (£78.9m) must be invested by the end of 2024.

The takeover will be fully funded by Ratcliffe’s Trawlers Limited company, with no debt included as part of the deal.

The Premier League must still approve the takeover before it goes through – a process which could take between six to eight weeks – but once that happens INEOS will be in charge of all footballing operations for both the men’s and women’s teams, while they will also get two seats on the club’s board.

Ratcliffe and INEOS have previous experience in elite-level sport, while they also already own two football clubs – Lausanne Sport in Switzerland and Nice in France.

Man United fans have regularly protested against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club over the years, but this deal will still see the Americans retain a majority stake in the 20-time champions.

However, matters on the pitch will be under Ratcliffe’s remit, although the Premier League stamp of approval for the deal is unlikely to arrive before the end of the January transfer window.

Man United have suffered from a string of injuries to key players this season and could look to bring in reinforcements next month, while the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Casemiro are among the players to have been linked with an exit.

Erik ten Hag‘s side were beaten 2-0 by West Ham United on Saturday, a result which saw them fail to score for a fourth successive match – the first time that has happened since 1992.

The Red Devils have also now suffered their worst start to a season since 1930, with 13 defeats in all competitions so far.

Man United will be back in action at home against high-flying Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

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