A huge percentage of Manchester United fans are very unhappy with the team’s current ownership.
The team has undeniably gone backwards in recent years and this is one of the reasons why the fans are ready for change, but there are many other reasons, including the way in which the Glazer family have structured the debts in the club.
So, news of the 69-year-old Sir Jim Ratcliffe showing an interest in the club got a lot of Manchester United fans excited.
Combined with a win against old rivals Liverpool and a new feeling of positivity, this has led to more fans backing the club at the bookmakers to achieve top four or even better this year, after an admittedly shaky start to the season.
Where has this news come from? Well, mainly from a statement released by a Ratcliffe spokesperson.
“If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” they said to The Times. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”
It’s pretty clear that Ratcliffe is testing the water to see if there is any chance that the club can be sold, but there is a big difference between buying a few shares and a total takeover of the club, of course.
Protests at the club against the Glazer’s ownership have been a feature of recent months, though Monday’s protest rather fizzled out as the team took on Liverpool.
Firstly, the new arrival of a statement signing Casemiro from Real Madrid led to a lot of people getting quite excited about the team and its future, which somewhat quelled the feeling of animosity.
There was also more positivity in the air, partially due to Ratcliffe’s interest and partially due to the fact that the club managed to beat Liverpool, something that was not expected by the sportsbooks.
Manchester United fans could have been excused for getting excited when they saw the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, joke on Twitter about buying the team.
He was quick to make clear that it was a joke, but also made a comment that if he ever were to buy a sports team, it would be Manchester United, as he had followed the club when he was a child. Perhaps Musk is also testing the water to see if there is ever an opportunity to buy the club?
Ratcliffe’s interest and credentials
One of the most appealing things for Manchester United fans is the fact that Ratcliffe was born in Lancashire and is a lifelong fan of the club. This means he’s less likely to take a business-first approach and could potentially invest in the future of the club.
He’s the majority shareholder of Ineos, one of the world’s largest chemical groups, and has a long history of partnership and ownership in sports. As well as owning Nice in Ligue 1, he also owns Lausanne-Sport in Switzerland and the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team.
The spokesperson continued to comment: “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.”
There is some optimism from the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), but they have been incredibly critical of the Glazer’s reign and are keen to have a say in who buys the club and what they commit to:
“Any prospective new owner has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club. They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories, and that investment must be real new money spent on the playing side and the stadium,” said a spokesman from MUST.
While Sir Jim Ratcliffe claims to be a fan of Manchester United since childhood, there are some sceptics of this, as he was also interested in Chelsea in 2019 and then as recently as earlier in 2022, when he launched a bid to buy the club.
The source of Ratcliffe’s wealth
Ratcliffe’s wealth is estimated at over £18bn. He started his career at Exxon as a chemical engineer, and also studied at the London Business School in accounting.
In the early 1990s, Ratcliffe bought a part of Inspec, a chemicals company that was owned by BP at the time, and formed Ineos to push through the acquisition. The acquisitions continued as he bought up a variety of petrochemicals companies.
This has led to a huge level of personal wealth as well as involvement in a company turning over billions every year.
In spite of the Chelsea links, it is natural for the Man United faithful to be getting excited about Ratcliffe’s interest, as the Glazers’ tumultuous reign could potentially be about to come to an end.