Who is the billionaire buying a stake in Manchester United?

Britain’s second-richest person is committing £245m of his multibillion-pound fortune to Manchester United as part of a deal to acquire a 25% stake.

Fans disillusioned with the club’s management under the polarizing Glazer family will hope Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a lifelong Manchester United fan, will help both on and off the field.

It has been widely reported that he will be awarded some form of control over the football side of the business as part of his deal to buy a quarter of the club.

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Many observers suggest the deal will include an agreed path to take full ownership or control.

Here’s a look at Sir Jim’s professional background, how he acquired his fortune, why the billionaire wants a stake in the club – and what influence he could have.

What kind of work does he do?

Sir Jim is the founder, chairman and majority owner of the British petrochemical empire Ineos. The firm says it generates $65bn (£52.6bn) in revenue each year.

A former chemical engineer, Sir Jim founded the company in May 1998 to lead the acquisition of a BP chemical business.

The site in Antwerp was bought for £84m and employed 400 people.

Today, Sir Jim’s Ineos operates 194 sites in 29 countries and employs more than 26,000 people.

How much is he worth?

A total of £29.7 billion according to the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List.

The 71-year-old is second only to Gopi Hinduja and his family, who are behind Indian conglomerate Hinduja Group, worth £35 billion.

The second place marked a meteoric rise for Sir Jim, who was ranked number 27 on the 2022 Rich List.

However, he was certainly no poor man then; boasts an estimated fortune of £6.075bn.

His value has fluctuated in recent years. He topped the UK list in 2018 when his personal fortune was estimated at £21.05 billion.

Sports companies

His deal with Manchester United would be far from his first step into the world of sport.

Sir Jim and his chemical company have risen to prominence in football, Formula 1, cycling and rugby in recent years through their sports arm, Ineos Sports.

Here is a timeline of all Sir Jim and Ineos Sports’ deals.

• December 2010 – Ineos becomes the front-of-shirt sponsor of the Lausanne Hockey Club

• November 2017 – Ineos takes over the Swiss football club FC Lausanne-Sport

• April 2018 – Sir Jim takes over a British sailing team to create what is now Ineos Britannia, led by one of the most successful Olympic sailors ever Sir Ben Ainslie

• May 2019 – He acquires the British cycling team now known as the Ineos Grenadiers

• August 2019 – He buys the top-flight French football club Nice

• December 2020 – Sir Jim becomes co-owner of the Mercedes Formula 1 team. He owns a third with Daimler and Toto Wolff

• July 2021 – Ineos becomes New Zealand Rugby and Teams in Black sponsors in multi-million pound deal

• January 2022 – Ineos forms a partnership with record-breaking Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge and the NN Running Team, of which he is a part.

Why does he want to buy into United?

The main perceived factor has been the fact that the billionaire was born in Manchester and has been a lifelong supporter of the club.

However, he had made his aim to buy into a Premier League team clear long before he bid on the Old Trafford club.

In April 2022, he made a bid to buy Chelsea for £4.25bnand eventually lost to a consortium led by American businessman Todd Boehly.

It was the second time he had been linked with the London club, having explored in detail a possible bid back in 2019, but ended up buying French club Nice instead.

The devil is in the detail

Here’s a look at how Sir Jim’s deal with the Glazers is expected to work out.

Sky News exclusively revealed the billionaire would undertake to make the investment of DKK 245 million. GBP alongside the acquisition of a stake likely to be more than 1.25bn.

Sources told Sky News’ Mark Kleinman the investment of £245m. would be staggered and the majority of it would be handed over to the club at the end of the year.

They added that it would be funded by Sir Jim personally and would not add to United’s existing loans.

Combining the costs of the share purchase and the other capital for investment means that Sir Jim will commit to around 1.5 billion. GBP on day one of his United interest, although that figure could vary depending on the price he ultimately pays for the shares.

A source close to the negotiations said the additional £245m investment would be focused on United’s physical infrastructure and not on addressing shortcomings on the playing side of the club.

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What is the problem at Man United?

It’s no secret that United are struggling in both their domestic and European competitions in the early stages of this season.

They were also knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Newcastle in November.

United won the same competition last year and managed to finish third in the league under manager Erik ten Hag, who impressed in his first season at the helm.

But these performances were still nowhere near the heights fans became accustomed to during Sir Alex Ferguson’s almost 27-year career as manager, during which United won more than 30 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles.

The last time United won the league was the same year Sir Alex retired, 2013.

They have gone through five permanent managers in the 10 years since – David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Erik ten Hag, as well as interim manager Ralf Rangnick and deputy directors Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick. Almost £2 billion has also been spent on players in that time.

The current owners

The relative lack of success has put pressure on the already-maligned Glazer family, who have reportedly tried to sell the club in the past year.

American tycoon Malcolm Glazer took control of United in June 2005, but the deal was hugely unpopular with fans because it was primarily financed through loans secured by the club’s assets.

Within a year of the leveraged buyout, Mr Glazer had two strokes and his six children – Avram, Joel, Bryan, Kevin, Darcie and Edward – were running United, all sitting on the board.

Glazers’ takeover of £790m saddled United with debt that was around £500m. this time last year. The club was debt-free before the takeover.

There have been regular protests at Old Trafford ever since the first takeover.

Although the Glazer family have continued to earn large sums from United, fans’ anger has been exacerbated by the perceived incompetence they have overseen in the footballing side of the club.

Other clubs – including many with far less resources than England’s most successful ever – have put in place far more efficient structures and scouting setups that see them sign players who fit into a long-term strategy that successive managers are expected to adhere to.

However, United have hired and later sacked a number of coaches with contrasting footballing philosophies, with hundreds of millions spent on players to suit each manager’s approach.

It has left the club with one of the league’s highest wage bills and with players who are difficult to sell because their wages are so high despite their underperformance on the pitch.

Could Sir Jim turn the club around?

Former Man United captain and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville – who has been a vocal critic of the Glazers, gave Sky Sports News his views on the potential Ineos buy-in.

He said: “What we need to hear is the full proposal and how it is going to work.

“You don’t sit here as a Manchester United fan, completely blown away by the idea of ​​£245m going into improving the stadium… we know it’s not actually going to touch the sides properly of a complete refurbishment of Old Trafford, but what it is is a considerable sum of money – and Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a shrewd and successful businessman.

“He’s not going to put £245 million into something and let it go down the drain, so I suspect it’s probably the first part of some sort of plan that means they’re going to phase the renovation of the stadium over two or three different seasons. It sounds to me like they’re going to do it in phases.”

Sir Jim’s influence is key, says Neville

Neville also suggested the amount of control Sir Jim gives the Glazers could prove as crucial as his investment.

“I hope he’s negotiating to take as much power and control as he possibly can and fix as many things as he possibly can so the Glazers can’t turn on him when he comes through the door,” Neville said .

“There is a lot to do at Manchester United and Sir Jim Ratcliffe with his 25% stake will not be able to sort everything out on day one, but what I would hope is that he is able to communicate a clear plan .

“We have to be clear that the football side of things is the most important thing, first-team performances which need to be dealt with first and will make everyone feel better about themselves.

“He will have to influence the culture of the whole club and the feeling of the whole club, he will have to touch every point of the club.”

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