For the first time in ages, hope surges among Manchester United fans with the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe as co-owner of the club. A Manchester native and a lifelong Red Devils devotee, Ratcliffe's acquisition of a quarter of the shares and expected sole authority in professional decisions signifies a possible shift from the Glazer era, long associated with detachment and decline.
Viewed as a promising change amidst years of disappointment, Ratcliffe's involvement offers a glimmer of hope for the crowd at Old Trafford, disillusioned by the Glazer family's perceived disconnect from the club's ethos and the world of football. Expected to infuse £245 million into the club's operations, Ratcliffe's arrival raises optimism for re-establishing the bond between Manchester United and its fans that allegedly waned during the Glazer tenure.
Born in Manchester in 1952, Ratcliffe, a chemical engineering graduate, founded INEOS in 1998, a company now ranked as the world's fourth-largest chemical firm with a staggering annual revenue of $65 billion. His meteoric rise to become the UK's second-wealthiest individual, valued at £29.7 billion, has been accompanied by ventures across various sports, including ownership in Nice, Lausanne, Racing Club Abidjan, and involvement in the Mercedes F1 team, rowing, and cycling teams.
Despite his profound allegiance to Manchester United, Ratcliffe's interests extend beyond fandom. Previously eyeing Chelsea with a near £5 billion bid in 2022, Ratcliffe's entry into Manchester United's ownership was also driven by strategic and business considerations. The Glazers' decision to sell only a portion of the club followed various offers, including a £5 billion bid from Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, with the Glazers demanding between £6 billion to £7 billion.
Negotiating for 13 months, Ratcliffe secured a deal to acquire 25% of the club's ownership for £1.2 billion and assume control of professional decisions, expected to be finalized in March. However, the £245 million pledge for club enhancements won't reflect until March, indicating no major signings during the January transfer window, prompting skepticism from former player Gary Neville.
Expressing concerns about the timing and impact of Ratcliffe's involvement, Neville highlighted potential staff departures and the need for substantial investment beyond the pledged amount. While hopeful for change, Neville cautioned about potential uncertainties and the Glazers' distancing themselves from responsibility or credit based on Ratcliffe's performance, emphasizing the critical need for improvements in the club's ethos and on-field performance.