Lifelong Man United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe could buy club from the Glazers after failed Chelsea bid

Lifelong Man United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe could buy club from the Glazers after failed Chelsea bid

The billionaire chemicals entrepreneur who could buy United from the Glazers: Lifelong fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who grew up in a council house and became one of UK’s richest men with £10.9BN fortune, is linked to takeover after failed Chelsea bid

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe revealed his interest in launching a bid to buy Manchester United in August earlier this year
  • He is understood to be in the frame after the Glazer family sensationally announced they will listen to offers
  • It is thought that offer in excess of £5bn – and possibly as high as £9bn – would persuade them to sell the club
  • Ratcliffe, who has an estimated net worth of £10.9bn, failed in a £4.25bn bid to purchase Chelsea in May
  • But businessman is a lifelong United fan who has previously hit out at the club for for spending ‘dumb money’

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Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has emerged as a contender to buy Manchester United after the Glazer family announced they are ready to sell the club.

The 69-year-old, who founded chemical giant Ineos, revealed his interest in launching a bid to buy the club earlier this year and is understood to be in the frame after its current owners sensationally announced they will listen to offers.

In a statement issued at 9.30pm last night, co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer said they had authorised ‘a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives’.

It is thought that an offer in excess of £5bn – and possibly as high as £9bn – would persuade them to sell up.

Ratcliffe, meanwhile, said he wanted to buy Manchester United in August following a failed £4.25billion bid to purchase Chelsea.

The tycoon, who has an estimated net worth of £10.9billion, already has experience at the helm of a top football club with Team Ineos completing their €100million (£85million) takeover of Ligue 1 club OGC Nice in 2019.

That came two years after purchasing Swiss team FC Lausanne-Sport.

The INEOS Sport brand is led by Ratcliffe, with co-owners Andy Currie and John Reece, and also owns a third of the Mercedes Formula One team.

Ratcliffe is a lifelong Manchester United fan, though has admitted to having a season ticket at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.

He previously revealed that his favourite moment as a United fan was being there when they made their late comeback to win the Champions League in 1999. 

The businessman was born in 1952 and grew up in a council house on Dunkerley Avenue in Failsworth, a small town between Manchester and Oldham.

The 69-year-old, a billionaire who founded chemical giant Ineos, is understood to be in the frame to buy Manchester United following a sensational statement from the Glazer family last night

Ratcliffe pictured with his second wife Alicia, with whom he has a daughter, during the French Cup final between FC Nantes and OGC Nice at the Stade de France in May

Ratcliffe pictured with his second wife Alicia, with whom he has a daughter, during the French Cup final between FC Nantes and OGC Nice at the Stade de France in May

In a statement issued at 9.30pm last night, co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer (pictured at Old Trafford) said they had authorised 'a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives'

In a statement issued at 9.30pm last night, co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer (pictured at Old Trafford) said they had authorised ‘a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has widespread investments in sport, including in Team Sky (he is pictured on the left with Chris Froome and Sir David Brailsford)

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has widespread investments in sport, including in Team Sky (he is pictured on the left with Chris Froome and Sir David Brailsford) 

Ratcliffe (left) pictured alongside Mercedes AMG Petronas team principal Toto Wolff as they reveal the team's livery for the 2020 season

Ratcliffe (left) pictured alongside Mercedes AMG Petronas team principal Toto Wolff as they reveal the team’s livery for the 2020 season

Lewis Hamilton and then Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas celebrate on the podium with Ratcliffe following the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix race at the Circuit de Catalunya in May last year

Lewis Hamilton and then Mercedes’ Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas celebrate on the podium with Ratcliffe following the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix race at the Circuit de Catalunya in May last year

Ratcliffe tabled a bid for Chelsea in May earlier this year, but was beaten to it by American Todd Boehly (pictured) and turned his attention to United

Ratcliffe tabled a bid for Chelsea in May earlier this year, but was beaten to it by American Todd Boehly (pictured) and turned his attention to United

When his family moved to Yorkshire, the billionaire went to Beverley Grammar School before attending the University of Birmingham.

On his first day at the university, Ratcliffe was embarrassed to see he was towards the bottom of a list of 99 students ranked by their A-level results, but went on to achieve a 2:1 in chemical engineering. 

Following his graduation, he worked for BP during a summer holiday and was offered a job, but was fired just three days later because his boss came across his medical report and was not keen on him working there with mild eczema.

Ratcliffe then became a trainee accountant at a pharmaceuticals company, before moving onto Esso and then Courtaulds. 

In 1992, he mortgaged his house to buy BP’s chemicals division for around £40 million.

He started his first business shortly before his 40th birthday before founding Ineos aged 45 in 1998.

Over the following two decades, Ratcliffe has transformed the company into the world’s fourth largest chemicals company – operating 194 sites across 29 countries with 26,000 employees and annual revenues of £45bn.

Aside from his interests in football, he sponsors professional cycling team the Ineos Grenadiers, previously named Team Sky, who have won the Tour de France seven times.

The tycoon, who has an estimated net worth of £10.9billion, bought French club Nice for £91m. Pictured: Ratcliffe waves to fans before a match in October 2019

The tycoon, who has an estimated net worth of £10.9billion, bought French club Nice for £91m. Pictured: Ratcliffe waves to fans before a match in October 2019

Sir Jim's £130million superyacht, the Hampshire II. His company, Ineos, is one of the largest petrochemical firms in the world

Sir Jim’s £130million superyacht, the Hampshire II. His company, Ineos, is one of the largest petrochemical firms in the world 

Ratcliffe is a lifelong Manchester United fan, though has previously admitted to having a season ticket at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge

Ratcliffe is a lifelong Manchester United fan, though has previously admitted to having a season ticket at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge

Sir Jim married his first wife Amanda Townson in 1985 and they had two sons, George (pic) and Samuel. They both now work for Ineos

Sir Jim married his first wife Amanda Townson in 1985 and they had two sons, George (pic) and Samuel. They both now work for Ineos

Sir Jim married his first wife Amanda Townson in 1985 and they had two sons, George and Samuel, but the couple divorced in 1995.

He has a daughter with his second wife Alicia.

Cutting a svelte figure, he does distance running and triathlons to keep himself in shape. 

Ratcliffe was the UK’s third highest individual taxpayer and forked out £110million in 2017-18, according to the Sunday Times tax list. 

But in 2020, he was slammed for following a raft of rich Britons including Topshop boss Phillip Green and his wife Tina in relocating from the UK to Monaco where he is expected to save an estimated £4billion in tax.

The move came soon after he was knighted by the Queen for ‘services to business and investment’.

The businessman also came under fire when it emerged he had furloughed almost 800 members of staff from his luxury hotel groups.

Earlier this year Ratcliffe tried to purchase Chelsea, but saw his late bid turned down as current owner Todd Boehly and his consortium took ownership of the London club.

However, he has been outspoken in his view that Manchester United has lost its way, previously criticising the club in 2019 for its ‘shockingly poor’ managerial selections and spending ‘dumb money’ on ‘players like Fred’.

The current ownership model at the club sees the majority of control lie with the Glazer family, with Avram and Joel the main representatives.

The family purchased in the club in 2005, but have repeatedly been hit with swathes of criticism from the outset over the leveraged £790million purchase which heaped huge debt on United. 

A statement from the Glazers last night read: ‘The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1bn fans and followers.

Ratcliffe pictured outside the Grenadier Pub in London, where he came up with plans for a new 4x4

Ratcliffe pictured outside the Grenadier Pub in London, where he came up with plans for a new 4×4

Widespread fan protests against the current Manchester United owners, the Glazer family, have been ramped up in the last 18 months

Widespread fan protests against the current Manchester United owners, the Glazer family, have been ramped up in the last 18 months

‘As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.

‘We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.’

The Glazers enjoyed early success at Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, but United have failed to win the title in almost a decade since Ferguson and chief executive David Gill retired in 2013. 

Although the owners have spent well over £1bn on new signings in that time – and a club record £220m in the summer transfer window – they have failed to win over fans who continue to protest regularly inside and outside Old Trafford. 

After Ratcliffe’s failed bid for Chelsea in May, a spokesman confirmed: ‘If the club (United) is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer.’

GLAZER STATEMENT IN FULL

Manchester United announces process to explore strategic alternatives to enhance the club’s growth

Manchester United plc (NYSE:MANU), one of the most successful and historic sports clubs in the world, announces today that the Company’s Board of Directors (the ‘Board’) is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.

The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.

As part of this process, the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company. 

This will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders.

Executive Co-Chairmen and Directors, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said ‘The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers. As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives. 

‘We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future. Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.’

The Raine Group is acting as the Company’s exclusive financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is legal counsel to the Company.

Rothschild and Co. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders.

There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the Company. Manchester United does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the Board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.

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Jamie Phillips

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