The sale of Manchester United, launched almost a year ago, should reach its conclusion on Thursday with the arrival as a minority shareholder of British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.
The saga of the sale of Manchester United, launched almost a year ago, should reach its epilogue on Thursday with the arrival as a minority shareholder of the British billionaire Jim Ratcliffefounder of Ineos, a scenario which leaves supporters doubtful.
The Glazer family must give the green light on Thursday to the sale of 25% of the shares of the English giant, which it has managed since 2005, against the payment of around 1.5 billion pounds (1.7 billion euros) by Ratcliffe, who celebrates his 71st birthday on Wednesday.
The founder of the petrochemical group Ineos, one of the biggest fortunes in Great Britain, finds himself alone in the running following the withdrawal of Sheikh Jim Ben Hamad Al Thani, president of the Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), visibly tired of the procrastination American owners.
The latter announced in November 2022 that the board of directors of the Mancunian club was exploring “all strategic alternatives, including a new investment in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company”.
According to the press, they demanded a check for 6 billion pounds (6.9 billion euros) for the total sale of a club acquired in 2005 for 790 million pounds (around 910 million euros).
Under their reign, the star of Manchester United faded, to the great dismay of the supporters, while that of neighbor and rival City shone ever brighter. The Red Devils, European champions for the last time in 2008, have not won a Premier League title since 2013, just before the retirement of the iconic Alex Ferguson.
After a successful first season, current Dutch coach Erik ten Hag is struggling in the league (10th after eight days) and in the Champions League, where an early exit is feared after two initial defeats.
Supporters were generally positive about the possible arrival of Ratcliffe, a Manchester United fan since childhood. But they hoped, like him, a total takeover from the boss of Ineos, already owner of OGC Nice (French L1), of Lausanne-Sport in Switzerland, and also financially involved in cycling and Formula 1 .
If the 25% stake is confirmed, “a number of questions regarding the transaction must be clarified before supporters can comment on its merits,” warned the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which represents part of the transaction. fans of the club.
“The outcome must include further investment in the club. It cannot only be about the interests of shareholders, whether existing or new.”
In terms of infrastructure, the Old Trafford stadium remains the largest in the Premier League (around 75,000 seats), but it aged during the Glazer years. That of Manchester City, much more modern, was for example preferred to host Euro-2028.
Sheikh Jim had promised to invest mountains of money for a new stadium, a brand new training center and transfers of major players, also promising to liquidate the club’s debt, according to the press. But the Qatari withdrew his offer in the home stretch, AFP learned from a source close to the matter, confirming information from the BBC.
Red Devils fans appear circumspect, at best, in the face of the final scenario that is emerging, in which the Glazer family retains control despite Ratcliffe’s entry into the capital.
“How can a minority shareholder stop the cultural decline of an entire organization if the people who oversaw that decline still own the majority of shares?” Gary Neville, former United captain, said on social media.