Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s brutal verdict of Manchester United from 2019 has re-emerged, with the billionaire now wanting to buy the Old Trafford club nearly three years after lashing out at them.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson speaking on behalf of the billionaire Ineos owner, outlined that the English businessman views himself as a ‘potential buyer’ of the Red Devils.
It came after Sportsmail revealed the club’s current American owners, the Glazer family, were considering selling a minority stake in Man United and that they had held preliminary discussions about the possibility of bringing in a new investor.
A self-confessed Manchester United fan, Ratcliffe has the aim of going further and eventually taking full control of the club in the future – after seeing his last-minute £4.25billion offer to purchase Chelsea in May get rejected.
And fans could expect some wholesale changes at the club should the takeover go through, after the 69-year-old’s savage assessment of the club from three years ago re-surfaced.
Ratcliffe told the Times in 2019: ‘[Ineos] never wants to be the dumb money in town, never.
‘They [United] are in quite a big pickle as a business.
‘They haven’t got the manager selection right, haven’t bought well. They have been the dumb money, which you see with players like Fred.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy a stake in Premier League club Manchester United
The British billionaire claimed that United had been ‘dumb money’ with ‘players like Fred’
Brothers Avram (right) and Joel Glazer (left) are expected to keep their shares in the Red Devils
‘United have spent an immense amount since [Sir Alex] Ferguson left and been poor, to put it mildly. Shockingly poor, to be honest.
‘We have a different approach here to be moderately intelligent about it. Try to do it more grass roots, trying to locate young talent.
‘Some clubs seem to have an ability to do that, Southampton, Lille. United have done it really poorly. They have lost the plot.’
Ratcliffe, who has an estimated net worth of £12bn, wants to purchase the club outright, having recently failed with a bid to buy Chelsea, while US private equity firm Apollo have entered exclusive talks to acquire a minority share in the club.
Should Ratcliffe succeed in his takeover, it wouldn’t be his first foray into sports club ownership – with Ineos completing the €100million (£85million) takeover of Ligue 1 club OGC Nice in 2019.
Ratcliffe blasted United’s managerial selection since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure
Jose Mourinho brought about the last bit of silverware for United during his tenure as coach
Ineos revealed that company founder and Britain’s richest man has plans to buy the record Premier League holders after reacting to previous news regarding potential investment in the club.
‘If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,’ the spokesman told The Times.
‘If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership,’ the spokesman added.
Ineos then added that Ratcliffe would use investment to upgrade current infrastructure such as the deteriorating Old Trafford, stating there is a need to press the ‘reset’ button.
‘This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent.
‘Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.’
Ratcliffe and Team Ineos currently own Ligue 1 French side Nice since buying the club in 2019
The current ownership model at the club sees the majority of control lie with the Glazer family, with Avram and Joel Glazer the main representatives.
They purchased in the club in 2005, and despite coming in for swathes of criticism since their takeover, have recently felt the growing discontent increase after being publicly slammed by supporters, pundits, and former players with the club in disarray after years of poor management and recruitment.
While they do not plan to walk away entirely, the Glazers are prepared to sell minority shares at Old Trafford and, as revealed by Sportsmail, have entered exclusive talks with US private equity firm Apollo.
It is understood Apollo may bring in other investors as part of any deal, however the consortium is not likely to include bidders who missed out on the recent sale of Chelsea, such as Ratcliffe.
WHO IS SIR JIM RATCLIFFE?
Sir Jim, founder and boss of chemical giant Ineos, is a football obsessive who recently attracted controversy by his decision to abandon Britain for the tax haven of Monaco.
Newspaper articles suggested the billionaire was considering putting in an offer for the club, although his spokesman later said there was ‘no substance’ to the reports.
Sir Jim, who bought French club Nice for £91m in 2019, has previously been linked to both Chelsea and Manchester United, but has never gone ahead with buying a Premier League club because he considers them too expensive.
In 2019, the 69-year-old identified Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium as a major issue for any potential owner.
Born in 1952, Sir Jim grew up in a council house on Dunkerley Avenue in Failsworth, a small town between Manchester and Oldham, before attending Beverley Grammar School when his family moved to Yorkshire.
Sir Jim is a lifelong Manchester United fan, although he also has a season ticket at Chelsea. He sponsors professional cycling team the Ineos Grenadiers, who under their previous name, Team Sky, won the Tour de France seven times.
In 2020, he was slammed for following a raft of rich Britons including Topshop boss Phillip Green and his wife Tina in relocating from the UK to Monaco where he is expected to save an estimated £4billion in tax.
People who live in Monaco for at least 183 days a year do not pay any income or property taxes. In the UK, meanwhile, the highest tax rate is 45% on income above £150,000-a-year.
Sir Jim was the UK’s third highest individual taxpayer and forked out £110million in 2017-18, according to the Sunday Times tax list.
The move came soon after he was knighted by the Queen for ‘services to business and investment’.
The businessman also came under fire when it emerged he had furloughed almost 800 members of staff from his luxury hotel groups. His net worth has been reported as between £12 and £14bn.