British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is set to complete a deal for an initial 25% stake in Manchester United, according to The Times’ Matt Lawton and Matt Dickinson.
The agreement, believed to be worth up to £1.3 billion, is expected to be ratified at a board meeting in the coming days and follows Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani’s withdrawal from the sale process.
Ratcliffe’s offer allows the Glazers to retain a stake in the club. However, the founder of INEOS, a petrochemicals company that already owns French outfit Nice, eventually intends to complete a full takeover, Lawton and Dickinson report. Ratcliffe’s INEOS team will have “sporting influence” at Old Trafford as part of the initial deal, sources told Mark Ogden and Rob Dawson of ESPN.
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim immediately wanted 100% of the club, and his final approach in June was valued at over £5 billion, according to Sky News.
The drawn-out sale process started in November 2022, when the much-maligned Glazers revealed they were considering selling the club. Several rounds of bidding followed amid growing concerns that the incumbent owners had no intention to relinquish control and were instead trying to boost the club’s value and attract investment.
Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus was among United’s prospective buyers until he claimed the Glazers were disrespecting the club by opening a third round of bidding in April.
“I will not participate in a farce set up to maximize the profit for the sellers at the expense of Manchester United,” Zilliacus wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Manchester United’s share price plummeted in September following a report in the Mail on Sunday that said the Glazers were taking the club off the market.
Fans have staged numerous protests against the Glazers’ ownership. The club is dealing with huge debts, and the team isn’t close to matching the on-pitch success enjoyed during Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial tenure.
The Glazers bought United for £790 million in 2005. The club owes almost £1 billion in gross debt, bank borrowings, and transfer fees, Stone reported in March. Sheikh Jassim estimated £1.5 billion was required to modernize the club’s Old Trafford stadium and its training ground, Lawton and Dickinson understand.