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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Manchester United, a renowned Premier League club, has confirmed the sale of a minority stake to British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, owner of petrochemicals giant INEOS and one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals. Ratcliffe secures a stake of “up to 25%” and pledges a substantial $300 million investment in the iconic Old Trafford stadium.

As part of the agreement, Ratcliffe will assume responsibility for the club’s soccer operations, marking a significant shift in management dynamics. The deal involves an initial $200 million payment upon completion, with an additional $100 million slated by the end of 2024. The total transaction, valued at approximately $1.6 billion, encompasses the $300 million funding.

The Premier League’s approval stands as a crucial hurdle for the deal to proceed. Initially eyeing a complete takeover, Ratcliffe had vied with Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, who eventually withdrew his bid in October, leaving Ratcliffe to secure a minority share.

In a statement, Ratcliffe expressed his satisfaction as a local and lifelong supporter, emphasizing the infusion of global expertise from INEOS Sport to enhance the club’s performance and facilitate future investments in Old Trafford. The transaction, funded by Ratcliffe’s company Trawlers Limited without debt, aims to address concerns raised by fans regarding the leveraged nature of the Glazers’ previous buyout.

The Glazers, United’s executive co-chairmen, welcome Ratcliffe’s commercial experience and financial commitment, highlighting the potential for improved success with access to INEOS Sport’s elite team leadership. The announcement follows the Glazers’ decision last November to seek new investment, prompting fan protests and “Glazers out” chants.

Ratcliffe’s acquisition at $33 per share injects fresh capital into a club that has experienced on-field challenges since the retirement of former manager Alex Ferguson in 2013. While Ratcliffe’s investment aligns with fan desires for change, it falls short of a complete ownership shift, maintaining the Glazers’ presence.

United and Ratcliffe share a joint ambition to create a world-class football operation, leveraging existing strengths and pursuing success on and off the pitch. Ratcliffe’s INEOS initially emphasized a fan-centered ownership approach, setting sights on United’s Champions League triumph and aspirations to become the world’s premier club once again.

With a reported net worth of $15.1 billion, Ratcliffe’s diverse sports portfolio includes ownership of French club Nice, cycling franchise Team INEOS, a share in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team, and participation in the America’s Cup with sailing team INEOS Britannia. His entrance into Manchester United signifies a new chapter for the club, combining local roots with global aspirations.

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