Manchester United has confirmed the sale of a 25% stake to the British billionaire petrochemicals tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has said fans have “mixed feelings” following the sale and they “remain sceptical” because the Glazer family, which is deeply unpopular with supporters, still runs the club.
MUST said in a statement: “During 18 years of debt, decay and mismanagement, Manchester United fans have loudly and consistently called for change at our club.
“When the so-called strategic review was announced nearly a year ago, it finally appeared that the sale of the club was on the horizon, potentially bringing the new investment and new direction MUFC so clearly needs.
“Against that backdrop, fans have very mixed feelings today. We welcome the investment from a boyhood red, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos company, but many will wish his ownership stake was greater than the initially rumoured 25%… But with the Glazers still in charge, people should understand that United fans will remain sceptical and wait for the proof in the pudding.”
Image: Manchester United fans let off flares as they protest against the Glazer family in 2021 Sky News’ city editor Mark Kleinman learned earlier today that the deal would be confirmed – bringing an end to 13 months of talks about a potential takeover of the Old Trafford club.
Sources said earlier that United and Sir Jim’s Ineos Sport would confirm that he is acquiring the interest for $33-a-share (£26).
The deal, which comes after a torrid season for the Red Devils on the pitch, will see Sir Jim take control of the club’s footballing affairs once it is approved by the Premier League – a process expected to take between six and eight weeks.
He will inject $300m (£237m) into the club for investment in its infrastructure, taking his immediate outlay to roughly $1.5bn (£1.2bn).
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Sir Jim, chairman of the chemical company Ineos, will nominate Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc to join the club’s board once the purchase is approved.
He will also delegate seats on Man United PLC board to Ineos shareholder John Reece and Ineos Sport chair Rob Nevin.
The British billionaire will acquire up to 25% of Manchester United’s listed A-shares of part of the deal.
The Glazers have also sold 25% of Manchester United’s B-shares, which carry greater voting rights, to Sir Jim as part of the deal.
Image: Manchester United, playing in white, continued their poor form this season by losing 2 – 0 to West Ham Sir Jim said after the deal was confirmed: “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.
“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.
“We are here for the long term and recognise that a lot of challenges and hard work lie ahead, which we will approach with rigour, professionalism and passion. We are committed to working with everyone at the club – the board, staff, players and fans – to help drive the club forward.”
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The Manchester United Supporters Trust statement in full
During 18 years of debt, decay and mismanagement, Manchester United fans have loudly and consistently called for change at our club.
When the so-called strategic review was announced nearly a year ago, it finally appeared that the sale of the club was on the horizon, potentially bringing the new investment and new direction MUFC so clearly needs.
Against that backdrop, fans have very mixed feelings today.
We welcome the investment from a boyhood red, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS company, but many will wish his ownership stake was greater than the initially rumoured 25%.
We note the statements that he and his team will control sporting activities, yet puzzle how any organisation can put its very core business in the hands of a minority shareholder, and how that meaningfully works in practice.
It is now incumbent on the club’s owners and management to properly explain how this new structure will work, where the new investment will be directed and how it will benefit the team on the field.
As the supporters trust, we expect to have discussions with the club management and the INEOS team in the near future to understand their plans, and to put to them the very many questions fans have today.
Today might – just might – be a step forward for Manchester United after some very difficult years.
But with the Glazers still in charge, people should understand that United fans will remain sceptical and wait for the proof in the pudding.
Manchester United’s executive co-chairmen and directors, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, said: “We are delighted to have agreed this deal with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos. As part of the strategic review we announced in November 2022, we committed to look at a variety of alternatives to help enhance Manchester United, with a focus on delivering success for our men’s, women’s and academy teams.
“Sir Jim and Ineos bring a wealth of commercial experience as well as significant financial commitment into the club. 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. Manchester United has talented people right across the club and our desire is to always improve at every level to help bring our great fans more success in the future.”
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From November 2022: Manchester United owner Avram Glazer confronted by Sky News in Palm Beach United fans will welcome the deal – but their Old Trafford home is likely to need far more than £245m to deliver the overhaul that is required to turn it into one of the world’s elite football stadia once more.
The redevelopment will be financed personally by the billionaire and will not add to Manchester United’s existing borrowings.
Sir Jim’s purchase of a 25% stake in the Red Devils has been confirmed more than a year after the Glazer family, which has controlled the club since 2005, began formally exploring a sale.
The deal between the Glazers and Sir Jim comes after months of negotiations with several potential buyers, including the Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, who wanted to acquire full control of the club.