Monday, May 20, 2024

Manchester United takeover: Glazers to vote on Jim Ratcliffe minority deal next week

The Manchester United board are poised to vote on Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s proposal for a minority stake in the club this week with the Britiish billionaire’s firm INEOS pushing to conclude the lengthy sales process at Old Trafford. Ratcliffe is the sole remaining bidder left at the table after the bid led by Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani claimed that they would be withdrawing from the process on Saturday.

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Ratcliffe wants to buy an initial 25% stake in United in a bid estimated to be worth around $1.58 billion. This is expected to be the first step in a process that would eventually see INEOS take full control of the club; for now the firm are said to want control of the sporting endeavors at Old Trafford.

United have not commented on reports that Sheikh Jassim has fully exited the race after a fifth final offer worth just over $6 billion had been rejected. The banker and INEOS were the only parties to enter a race that began in November 2022 when the Glazer family announced they would consider offers for the club their father had bought in 2005. Sheikh Jassim’s offer had always been for full ownership of the club.

Should the United board — which includes six Glazers who control 96 percent of voting rights — give the green light to Ratcliffe’s offer then the British billionaire will find himself paying a significant premium for a quarter of a club currently valued at $3.3 billion. In doing so he will expect to have a significant say in the sporting status of a club who have struggled to reach their historic heights in recent years. Erik ten Hag’s side currently sit 10th in the Premier League table and have lost both of their Champions League group games.

In response to reports of Sheikh Jassim’s withdrawal from the process, the Manchester United Supporters Trust said: “MUFC is in desperate need of new investment and new majority ownership. We hope this news accelerates that process rather than delays it. 

“Based on the last 11 months, no-one can be quite sure. The Glazers need to make their position clear.”

Any deal that does not bring with it the immediate departure of the Glazers is unlikely to popular with a fanbase that have long since made clear their distrust of ownership. In the 18 years since their leveraged buyout of the club United have remained in debt, according to their most recent financial statement in March that constituted $650 million in long-term debt while they also owed around $275 million in outstanding transfer fees. They were also the only Premier League ownership group to pay themselves regular dividends between 2016 and 2020, a matter of considerable frustration among supporters. No major work has also been undertaken to modernize Old Trafford since 2006 and it remains to be seen what this deal would mean for the stadium.

Ratcliffe, 70, grew up in Failsworth, a few miles outside Manchester, and says he is a boyhood United fan. He founded INEOS in 1998, a multinational chemicals company that also owns in Ligue 1 club Nice and Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport. They also have stakes in the Mercedes F1 team.

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