To turn around Manchester United’s struggling finances, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe finally closed a deal on Sunday to purchase a 25% share in the English Premier League team.
He also promised to invest $300 million in the team.
After the Glazer family, the club’s principal owners, stated in November 2022 that they were considering strategic options, more than a year of uncertainty was ended by the agreement, which also saw Ratcliffe’s INEOS group assume management of the football operations.
The Glazers have faced harsh criticism from supporters for overseeing a drop in the team’s output since departing manager Alex Ferguson in 2013 after an unmatched run of success.
“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, 71, 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.”
A source acquainted with the situation stated that Ratcliffe’s acquisition of a stake at $33 per share places the 20-time English champions’ total market value—including debt—at $6.3 billion.
Ratcliffe’s anticipated investment of $200 million will be paid at deal closing, and the remaining $100 million will be paid by the end of 2024, according to the club.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani of Qatar had also considered purchasing the team, but he withdrew from the bidding process after declaring he would not increase his $6 billion offer.
Ratcliffe’s INEOS also owns French Ligue 1 club Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport, and works with Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One.
It is also behind the Grenadiers, one of the world’s most successful cycling teams.
“Sir Jim and INEOS bring a wealth of commercial experience as well as a significant financial commitment into the club,” United’s executive chairs Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said.
“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.”
United has gone through five permanent managers and three caretakers since Ferguson resigned, but they haven’t been able to relive the glory years, winning only one FA Cup, two League Cup medals, and an 11-year Europa League crown.
The supporters, who demanded change and staged protests as the team’s debt ballooned to more than $600 million, have become resentful of the Glazers’ unwavering refusal to sell the team over the years.
Despite spending about $1 billion ($1.1 billion) on transfers over the last six years, United is seventh in the Premier League standings under Dutch coach Erik ten Hag.
Furthermore, they were eliminated from European competitions following their Champions League group’s bottom position.