Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has dashed all hopes of buying Manchester United football club. He said the move was shot down after discussions with the Glazers, who made it clear they are not interested in selling the club.
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 ready to fully commit to the Ligue 1 Nice football team.
“I’m a lifelong Manchester United fan,” said Ratcliffe. “And I was there in Barcelona in 1999 at that most remarkable game that is burned deep into my memory. 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 belongs to the father’s six children and they don’t want to sell it.
The Glazer family has been at odds with Manchester United fans for years. A leveraged buyout by the club meant that when they originally bought Manchester United, they then loaded the club’s finances with the debt associated with the sale. It’s a debt that continues to be part of the club’s budget every year. It has also impacted Manchester United’s ability to improve their training facilities, Old Trafford Stadium, as well as player acquisitions.
“If it had been for sale in the summer, yes, we probably would have tried it after the Chelsea thing. But we cannot sit around and hope that one day Manchester United will be available.”
Ratcliffe had tried earlier in the season to be part of a consortium to also buy Chelsea Football Club. The club was put up for sale after Roman Abramovic’s assets were frozen in England following Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine.
“When Chelsea was put up for sale, the three bidders were all American financial institutions. And so they viewed Chelsea as a financial asset. While we considered it a common good. So we felt that if we had bought Chelsea, we would never have owned Chelsea. We would only have been the stewards for a time. It’s like St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s part of the community and you shouldn’t treat it as a financial asset,” Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe’s portfolio includes one-third of Mercedes F1 Team, INEOS Grenadiers Cycling Team and Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Team.