Sir Jim Ratcliffe close to buy 25% of stake in Manchester United Football Club

16 Oct 2023

Sir Jim Ratcliffe close to buy 25% of stake in Manchester United Football Club

After months of negotiations and several bids being rejected, Qatari prince and investor Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani pulled out of the race to buy world-renowned Manchester United from the Glazers family. The lucrative deal was reportedly worth $8 billion; the takeover bid amounted to $6 billion; and an extra $1.5 billion was to be invested in infrastructure and debt clearance.

With Sheikh Jassim out of the race, Sir Jim Ratclife, chairman of the Ineos Group, would pay over $1.5 billion for a 25% stake in the club. This bid is said to be close to being accepted by the Glazer family.

Although the terms of Ratclife's bid are much inferior to those of Sheikh Jassim’s bid, the Glazer family wants to retain control over the club and hence feels the former’s bid is much more suitable.

Manchester United is currently valued at $3.3 billion, which is almost half of what Sheikh Jassim was willing to pay. This news comes as a shock to the club's supporters, who felt that Sheikh Jassim’s deal was the dream deal anyone could offer.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Glazers family have not yet reached an agreement on the sale; it is said to be very close. It is also being reported that the negotiations might continue until the end of the month.

The Glazer family bought Manchester United in 2005 for $960 million. They have amassed their wealth through real estate and healthcare. They also own the National League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The family currently has total control over about 96% of the clubs’ voting stock.

The deal proposed by Ratclife would still allow the members of the family to remain in control of the majority of the club. If the deal is agreed upon, Ratcliffe will be in charge of hiring and managing talent. This department has been under constant scrutiny, and fans would welcome a fresh approach to this unit.

In 1998, Sir Jim Ratcliffe established Ineos, where he currently holds the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and possesses a majority ownership share of two-thirds. According to Forbes, Ratcliffe's estimated net worth stands at $18.7 billion.

This British billionaire has a well-established presence in the sports industry. Ineos is the proprietor of the French Ligue 1 team Nice and the Swiss Super League outfit FC Lausanne-Sport. Additionally, Ineos collaborates with the partner club Racing Club Abidjan, competing in the Ivory Coast Ligue One. Furthermore, the company sponsors the Grenadiers, recognized as one of the most accomplished cycling teams globally.

The Glazers have set notably ambitious valuation expectations when compared to other soccer transactions. For instance, in the previous year, an investment consortium led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital acquired Chelsea Football Club for $3.1 billion, valuing it at 5.7 times the revenue generated in its last financial year.

In contrast, Ratcliffe's suggested valuation exceeds 11 times the revenue generated by Manchester United in the past 12 months, as per data from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

The Glazers had announced on November 2022, that they would be exploring a deal for a change of ownership. This decision came after several protests conducted by fans amid the poor performance of the club. Manchester United are a record 20-time English champion and have more than 650 million fans worldwide.

Although Manchester United won the Carabao League Cup in 2023, their third-place finish and 14 points behind the English Champions and local rivals Manchester City have made the fans more vocal regarding the change in ownership.


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