Manchester United confirm sale of 25% stake to Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Manchester United Football Club on Sunday confirmed the sale of a 25% stake to billionaire petrochemical magnate Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Sky News has learned that an announcement will be made later which will bring to an end 13 months of negotiations over a potential takeover of the Old Trafford club.

Sources said United and Sir Jim’s Ineos Sport would confirm he is acquiring interest 33 USD per stock (£26), confirms a report last month from Sky News.

The deal, which comes amid a torrid season for the Red Devils on the pitch, will see Sir Jim take control of the club’s footballing affairs once approved by the Premier League – a process expected to take between six and eight weeks.

He will inject $300 million (£237m) to the club to invest in its infrastructure, taking his immediate outlay to around $1.5bn. (£1.2 billion).

Sir Jim will nominate two representatives to join the United board.

The deal, details of which Sky News revealed last month, will be structured as a tender offer to acquire 25% of the listed A shares.

The Glazers will also sell 25% of their Class B shares, which carry greater voting rights, to Sir Jim as part of the deal.

The extra investment from Sir Jim is likely to be welcomed by United fans who believe the club has been starved of investment under the Glazers’ ownership.

Analysis: Man Utd fans will be hoping this is the beginning of the end for the Glazers

Manchester United fans set off flares as they protested the Glazer family in 2021

But United’s home is likely to need far more than £245 million to deliver the overhaul required to make it one of the world’s elite football stadiums again.

The redevelopment will be financed personally by the billionaire and will not add to Manchester United’s existing loans.

Sir Jim’s purchase of a 25% stake in the Red Devils will be confirmed more than a year after the Glazer family, who have controlled the club since 2005, formally began exploring a sale.

The Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday that Sir Jim’s investment had been delayed by concerns about protecting minority shareholders.

Those concerns have now been overcome, according to insiders.

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. United lost 2-0 at West Ham on Saturday to leave the club facing an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Several other key questions remain about United’s future ownership, including whether Sir Jim will ultimately seek overall control of the club.

Some United fans have expressed concern at the prospect of Sir Jim buying a minority stake as it paves the way for Glazer’s continued presence at Old Trafford.

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Manchester United, playing in white, continued their poor form this season by losing 2-0 to West Ham
Manchester United, playing in white, continued their poor form this season by losing 2-0 to West Ham

The family, who paid just under £800m to buy the club in 2005, have been tight-lipped throughout the process and have said nothing substantial to the NYSE since the process of engaging with potential buyers began.

Previous iterations of Sir Jim’s offer to the club, which focused on gaining outright control, included put-and-call arrangements that would be exercised three years after a takeover to enable him to buy the rest of the club’s shares out.

The Monaco-based billionaire, who owns Ligue 1 side Nice, penned a restructured deal in October in a bid to unblock the ongoing impasse over United’s future.

In addition to the competing bids from Sir Jim and Sheikh Jassim, the Glazers received several credible offers for minority stakes or financing to fund investment in the club.

Part of the Glazers’ rationale for assigning such a large valuation to the club lies in the possibility that it will gain greater control over its lucrative broadcasting rights in the future, along with a belief that arguably the world’s most famous sporting brand can be exploited more commercially effectively.

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From November 2022: Manchester United owner Avram Glazer confronted by Sky News in Palm Beach

Glazer’s tenure has been dogged by controversy and protests, and the absence of a Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager in 2013 has fueled fans’ anger at the debt-based nature of their takeover.

Fury over its proposed participation in the ill-fated European Super League project in 2021 crystallized supporters’ desire for new owners to replace the Glazers.

Confirming the launch of the strategic review last November, Avram and Joel Glazer said: “Manchester United’s strength rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.

“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.”

The Glazers listed a minority stake in the company in New York in 2012. Ineos and Manchester United both declined to comment.

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