Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has shot down any hopes of initiating a move to buy Manchester United football club. He said that the move was shot down after a conversation he had with the Glazers, who made it clear that they aren’t interested in selling the club.
Speaking at an FT Live Conference, Ratcliffe spoke about his love for Manchester United and how he wanted to invest in a football team and was now prepared to fully commit to Ligue 1 football team Nice.
“I’m a lifelong Manchester United fan,” Ratcliffe said. “And I was there in that most remarkable match in 1999 in Barcelona, which is deeply etched in my mind. Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family. I met Joel and Avram, and they are the nicest people. They are gentlemen. And they don’t want to sell. And it’s owned by the six children of the father, and they don’t want to sell.
The Glazer family have been at loggerheads with the Manchester United supporters for years. A leveraged buyout of the club meant that when they initially bought Manchester United, then loaded the debt that came with the sale onto the club’s finances. It is a debt that continues to be a part of the club’s budget every year. It has also affected Manchester United’s ability to upgrade their training facilities, the Old Trafford Stadium, as well as player buys.
“If it had been for sale in the summer, yes, we would probably have had a go following on from the Chelsea thing. But we can’t sit around hoping that one day Manchester United will become available.”
Ratcliffe had earlier in the season attempted to be a part of a consortium to purchase Chelsea football club as well. The club was put on sale after Roman Abramovic’s assets in England were frozen following the Russian illegal occupation of Ukraine.
“When Chelsea came up for sale the three bidders were all American financial institutions. And so they were looking at Chelsea as a financial asset. Whereas we looked at it as a community asset. So our view was that had we bought Chelsea, we would never have owned Chelsea. We would just have been the custodians for a period of time. It’s like St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s part of the community and you shouldn’t treat it as a financial asset,” said Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe’s portfolio includes a third of the Mercedes F1 team, the INEOS Grenadiers Cycling team and Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team.