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The bidding war to buy Manchester United Football Club from the Glazer family is set to begin and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the wealthiest man in the United Kingdom, is the first man to go public with this plans to buy the club.
Ratcliffe, who owns the fracking and chemical engineering company INEOS, grew up in Manchester and was a boyhood Manchester United fan. He has gone on record in the past to state that he would attempt to buy the club should it be put up for sale and it appears he is true to his word.
The Glazer family announced in November that they were open to offers for the club after a 17-year reign that has been marred by regular protests against their ownership. It is expected that a price north of £5bn will be needed to get the American family to accept.
On Tuesday night, a spokesperson for INEOS said: “We have formally put ourselves into the process.”
A second crack of the whip
For Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the opportunity to buy Manchester United provides him with a second opportunity at getting his hands on a Premier League Club. When Chelsea were up for sale last year, he placed an 11th-hour bid of £4.25bn but the deal with Todd Boehly was already too far down the line.
Many speculated at the time that Ratcliffe’s late bid was a “trial run” of sorts ahead of his planned attempt to buy Manchester United. Although he’ll have to front up more cash this time around, the opportunity to own his boyhood club is seemingly too good to miss.
It would be third football club that Sir Jim owns, alongside Nice in France and Lausanne in Switzerland. He may have to end up selling Nice if he completes a takeover at United due to a conflict of interest. Laws state that you can’t own two football clubs that compete in the same competition so if United and Nice were to end up in the same European competition then issues would arise.
He will be aware, however, that he won’t be alone in his intention to buy the club. There will be interest from some of the wealthiest people on the planet, particularly those in Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, US investors are also sure to throw their names into the hat.
The end is in sight
For Manchester United fans, this is more good news as they move ever closer to seeing their football club debt-free. They have never stopped protesting throughout the 17-year reign of the Glazer family due to crippling debts, terrible transfer markets, and stadium decline.
Ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville has said that it’s important that prospective bidders put forward a manifesto so that fans can be made aware of the potential plans for the club. Speaking to SkySports he said:
“Manchester United can’t be handing over to an owner that basically screams against what the club stands for or what the club wants. So there are manifesto pledges that I think are really important – like the fan voice, the fan experience, and maybe even positions for fans on the board.”