Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, is interested in buying a stake in Manchester United, if the Glazers are willing to sell the crisis club.
Pressure is mounting on the American owners after yet another dismal start to the Premier League season. Former director Michael Knighton has already outlined his intentions to complete a hostile takeover, with boyhood United fan and Ineos CEO Ratcliffe now ready to join the consortium.
Ratcliffe was one of the parties interested in buying Chelsea this year and has previously distanced himself from acquiring United. But in a new statement, he has now declared he would be a willing investor. “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” Ratcliffe’s spokesperson told the Times. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”
The announcement comes just hours after reports have emerged that the Glazers, who have owned United for 17 tumultuous years, are considering selling a minority stake in the club. It is understood that preliminary discussions have taken place about offloading shares and bringing in fresh investment.
And Radcliffe believes a cash injection is required, to help fund not only an improvement off the pitch, but to upgrade the facilities off it. “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.”
However, hopes of a rapid transferring of power remain faint, with the current owners steadfast they will not completely relinquish control. That is despite yet more protests planned by supporters, with a number of supporters set to demonstrate outside Old Trafford before Monday night’s game at Liverpool.
Knighton has spoken in clear terms about how he hopes to oust the Glazers, although there are reservations about his capacity to complete a deal having infamously failed in an attempt to buy them in 1989.
Nevertheless, he has revealed that he has been in discussions with a number of billionaires in an attempt to match the £6bn valuation and had stated he was hoping to “smoke out” Ratcliffe.
“They are small-time billionaires that I have been speaking to for three to four months now”, Knighton explained to ITV News. “When I was approached by some fan groups, oddly enough, saying ‘look, our club is dying on its feet’ would you please do something?’
“I made a few phone calls and I’ve been pulling this consortium together ever since. We are not the great Sir Jim Ratcliffe. We do not have those resources. We are not some nation state sovereign fund who has oil revenue of two billion a day. The point is: someone had to make a stand.”
On potentially including Ratcliffe in the takeover, Knighton added: “If we can smoke the great Sir Jim out to buy Manchester United my consortium will be punching the air because we’ve achieved what we want to do.
“We will make the bid with our own consortium but, I’ll tell you this, we do not have the resources available to do everything that is needed.”