Sir Jim Ratcliffe wraps up Manchester United minority stake deal

A corner flag showing the logo of Manchester United is seen ahead of the English FA Cup 4th round soccer match between Manchester United and Reading at Old Trafford.
A corner flag showing the logo of Manchester United is seen ahead of the English FA Cup 4th round soccer match between Manchester United and Reading at Old Trafford. Copyright Rui Vieira/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
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The deal has finally been done some 15 months after the Glazer family announced a strategic review of the football club, which also included the possibility of selling it.

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Petrochemical billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe now owns a 27.7% minority stake in Manchester United, through his company Trawlers Limited. A lifelong United fan, Sir Jim is best known for being the head of the INEOS conglomerate.

His initial offer was for a 25% stake in the club, which includes a 25% stake in Class A shares, as well as a 25% stake in Class B shares, at $33 (€30.5) per share for both classes.

However, since this offer was closed, Sir Jim has offered another $200 million (€185.1 million) for more shares, taking his total ownership of the club to 27.7%. 

He has also pledged another $100 million (€92.5 million) investment into Manchester United by the end of this year. These funds are expected to be used to repair and upgrade the infrastructure at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester.

The total deal, including the two investments after the initial offer, is worth about $1.65 billion (€1.53 billion).

The deal has been about 15 months in the making, ever since the Glazer family, the controlling stakeholder, announced that it would be looking into a strategic review for the club, including a possible sale, in November 2022.

Since then Sir Jim, along with Qatari banker and businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani had been the forerunners for minority ownership. The latter dropped out of the race in October 2023, leaving Sir Jim to take the win.

Manchester United could see significant changes within  months

Ever since their takeover of Manchester United back in 2005, the Florida-based Glazer family has been heavily criticised for burdening the club with debt. That started immediately after the Glazer takeover, which was funded by a leveraged buyout rather than the Glazer family using their own funds.

The family has also been paying itself a significant portion of the dividends from the club's profits while doing little to alleviate the debt burden since their takeover.

One of the biggest issues fans seemed to have with the Glazer family was the lack of investment in club infrastructure, which resulted in the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester falling into considerable disrepair. That included leaks in the roof, as well as a mice infestation, amongst other issues.

The club's performance in the Premier League has also been disappointing under the Glazer family's ownership.

Although the Glazers will still retain majority control, the new deal allows Sir Jim to have significant control over the football operations. This includes both men and women's football and will encompass decisions relating to academies, transfer policies and all other football-related operations. As such, this could go a long way in shaping the overall direction of the club from here on.

In a press release announcing the deal, Sir Jim said. "To become co-owner of Manchester United is a great honour and comes with great responsibility. 

"This marks the completion of the transaction, but just the beginning of our journey to take Manchester United back to the top of English, European and world football, with world-class facilities for our fans.

"Work to achieve those objectives will accelerate from today."

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