Man Utd’s next owner? Everything you need to know about billionaire Jim Ratcliffe
Sir Jim Ratcliffe could soon become the next owner of Manchester United.
After months of speculation, it’s now official that Ratcliffe’s company Ineos has entered the race to buy the club from the Glazer family.
We’ve broken down everything you need to know about the billionaire investor.
How rich is Sir Jim Ratcliffe?
When he received a knighthood in the 2018 Birthday Honours, Ratcliffe was anointed Britain’s richest man, although since then he has fallen down the rankings.
Ratcliffe’s personal wealth is estimated at somewhere between £11billion (Forbes) and £6billion (Sunday Times). In the latest edition of the Sunday Times Rich List, Ratcliffe was named the 27th wealthiest person in the UK.
He made his wealth through founding petrochemicals firm Ineos, which has 194 sites across 29 countries, generating sales estimated to be around £50billion. The company employs more than 26,000 people.
Asking Sir Jim Ratcliffe about the possibility of buying Manchester Utd last year – when Britain’s richest man bid for Chelsea ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/r8rzOJGQCo
— Dan Roan (@danroan) January 17, 2023
What happened to Ratcliffe’s Chelsea bid?
Ratcliffe – eventually – entered the race to buy Chelsea when it was put up for sale by Roman Abramovich last season. He reportedly offered £2.5billion and promised to invest £1.75billion across the first 10 years.
He submitted a bid two weeks after the deadline, but by then Todd Boehly’s consortium had already been granted preferred bidder status.
“We’ve had an email to say: ‘Forget it, you’re not in the process,’” Tom Crotty, Ineos’ director of communications and corporate affairs told The Telegraph.
It was a case of too little too late for Ineos, with Boehly’s bid the one that went through.
Does Sir Jim Ratcliffe actually support Man Utd?
It sounds too good to be true but it seems as though his story is a genuine one.
Ratcliffe grew up in a council estate in Failsworth, Greater Manchester as the son of a joiner and office worker.
“I’m a lifelong Manchester United fan. I was there in that most remarkable match in 1999 in Barcelona. That is deeply etched in my mind,” Ratcliffe told the Financial Times in October.
The 70-year-old seems to have a genuine passion for sport, with Ineos owning three football clubs, the Grenadiers cycling team and a stake in the Mercedes F1 team.
How serious is Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid?
Difficult to say just yet.
But you wouldn’t imagine that Ratcliffe would be getting involved if he wasn’t serious about buying the club. One thing that this approach has over the Chelsea bid is that this time he appears to be getting everything together in time.
“We have formally put ourselves into the process,” Ratcliffe’s spokesperson told The Times – and that’s officially as much as we know of their involvement in the race.
At this stage of the process, it’s a case of the interested parties declaring their interest with Raine Group, the bank handling the potential sale of United.
The next period will be one of due diligence. From February formal bids can come in with a view to a sale being completed by the end of the 2022-23 season.
“I think we need to remember, with the United sale here, the Raine [Group] bank who are in charge of this process, they’re aiming for a complete sale of Manchester United in the first quarter of 2023,” The Athletic’s football correspondent David Ornstein recently told NBC Sports.
“And therefore, the Glazer family are not going to be willing to sanction a massive outlay of cash on transfer deals at this time of the year.
David Ornstein: “You’ve gotta watch this space on that takeover [of Manchester United] because it could be coming very soon.”
— United Peoples TV (@UnitedPeoplesTV) December 28, 2022
What does Sir Jim Ratcliffe think of the Glazers (and Fred)?
A few years ago the Ineos CEO gave a very revealing interview.
Not only did he question the wisdom of spending billions of pounds to buy a football club, but he didn’t mince his words when it came to how he felt the Glazer family were running the club – even singling out one of United’s midfielders as evidence of their ineptitude.
“[Ineos] never wants to be the dumb money in town, never,” Ratcliffe told The Times back in 2019.
“They [United] are in quite a big pickle as a business.
“They haven’t got the manager selection right, haven’t bought well. They have been the dumb money, which you see with players like Fred.
“United have spent an immense amount since Ferguson left and been poor, to put it mildly. Shockingly poor, to be honest.
“We have a different approach here to be moderately intelligent about it. Try to do it more grassroots, trying to locate young talent.
“Some clubs seem to have an ability to do that, Southampton, Lille. United have done it really poorly. They have lost the plot.”
He may have been critical of how the club has been run in recent years, but he struck a more diplomatic tone when speaking about the Glazers personally.
“Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family, whom I have met. I’ve met Joel and Avram and they are the nicest people, I have to say, they are proper gentlemen,” said at a Financial Times event in October.
Has he been successful at Nice?
“Ineos bought Nice in August 2019 for €100m. The intentions have been very good, to be fair,” ESPN’s Ligue 1 transfer expert Julien Laurens told Sky Sports’ The Transfer Show.
“You can see he wants to do well. The investment has been good. On the Ligue 1 and Nice scale, they have spent €200m in those three-and-a-half years they have been at the club.
“Before Man Utd fans say that is what we need to spend in one summer, not three years, Nice do not have the revenue Man Utd have. Ligue 1 doesn’t bring in the same money the Premier League brings in. You have to remember the scale.
“They have invested a lot of money in youth players and, to a certain extent, that has worked. However, in terms of results on the pitch it has been a bit underwhelming.”
During Nice’s first season under Ineos, they finished 5th in Ligue 1 under Patrick Vieira. The Arsenal legend was sacked after a five-game losing streak midway through the following season, in which the club eventually finished 9th.
Christophe Galtier – now at PSG, of course – led Nice to 5th last season. But the club are struggling this season, dwindling in midtable under returning boss Lucien Favre, with Premier League old boys like Aaron Ramsey, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ross Barkley and Kasper Schmeichel failing to light things up in the French top flight.