Old Trafford crisis

Glazers set to snub Ratcliffe’s Man Utd bid

Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Interest: Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United but the club’s owners are expected to snub his advances and look to the US for new investment.

Ratcliffe, who is the owner of petrochemical giant Ineos, part-owner of the Grangemouth chemicals plant, is keen to talk to the Glazer family should they be willing to sell, although the feeling does not appear to be mutual.

The Glazers have been in charge since 2005 and are coming under increasing pressure over their running of the club after United’s disastrous start to the season left them bottom of the Premier League table after two defeats.

They are said to be in discussions with US private equity firm Apollo Global Management over the sale of a minority stake that would value the Manchester club at about £5bn. A number of family members are understood to want out, though brothers Joel and Avram would keep their shares and continue to run the club.

New York-based Apollo, which has more than $500 billion under management, could bring in other investors as part of any deal, although 69-year-old Ratcliffe, who recently failed in a £4.25bn bid to buy Chelsea, is not thought to be part of their plans.

The speculation saw United’s share price rise significantly on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, with shares closing at $13.69 (£11.36), up 7.1%.

A spokesperson for Ratcliffe claimed on Wednesday that the tycoon would be interested in buying United.

“If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” said his representative, prior to the Apollo link surfacing.

“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.”

Ineos owns Swiss team Lausanne-Sport as well as Nice in France, investing heavily in the team with recent signings including Kasper Schmeichel and Aaron Ramsey. The Ligue 1 club made a £10 million bid for the Blackburn striker Ben Brereton Díaz.

The Glazers bought United in a leveraged buyout that saddled the club with massive debts and has been a factor in a deteriorating relationship with the supporters who have seen it as holding back investment.

The Super League plan prompted protests

The Glazers also backed the unpopular move to create a European Super League.

News of Sir Jim’s interest follows a farcical tease by billionaire Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, that he was keen on acquiring the club.

“I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome,” Musk tweeted, generating hundreds of thousands of likes from fans.

Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, later said that he was joking. He tweeted in reply to questions: “No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams.” He added: “Standup is my side hustle.”

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