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British billionaire Ratcliffe ‘reworking’ offer to buy Manchester United

Head of chemicals company INEOS and owner of OGC Nice, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is hoping for his bid to be accepted, five months after what was believed to be his final bid. 

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is allegedly reworking his bid to purchase Manchester United football club in a bid to break a months-long deadlock with the Glazers, Bloomberg reported.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the outlet said Ratcliffe is “working with his advisers to address concerns about the terms of his bid from minority investors in the English Premier League football club”.

The only other party interested is Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, son of the former prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani. He sent a multitude of offers to the current American owners, the Glazers, the last offer coming in June for over $6bn.

Fabrizio Romano, football’s most followed journalist, kept fans updated on the saga, with the latest update from the Qatari bid coming in June. The journalist stated ‘Sheikh Jassim submitted a fifth bid to buy 100% of Manchester United. It’s an improved bid with clear indication: take it or leave it. 

Romano continues ‘There will be no more bids from Qatari group — after this Friday, Sheikh Jassim will no longer engage with the process’. 

However, as time goes on, the Glazers intent to sell seems increasingly less genuine, as there has not been an official update or statement from them since November of last year, where they declared ‘the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company’. 

Since then, it has been a two-horse race between Sheikh Jassim and Sir Ratcliffe, with the Qatari offering a full buyout of the club and a clearing of debt, whereas the British businessman planned to keep the Glazers in some capacity, with himself being the majority shareholder.

The saga’s end looked to be in sight, as reports from Qatar in June stated that Sheikh Jassim’s final offer of $6bn was accepted and the takeover was imminent. The news was accompanied by share prices of Manchester United rising by more than 17 per cent.

The latest offer by Ratcliffe, reported by Bloomberg, affirms that both offers are being considered by the Glazers and that a sale for a minority stake is also being considered by the family, according to the report.

Manchester United fans are growing increasingly impatient with the Glazers, with performances on the pitch, problems off the pitch with players and discipline are affecting the club as a whole, and many direct the blame to the American owners.

Gary Neville, a pundit for Sky Sports and former United player is an outspoken critic against the current owners.

Neville states ‘The Glazers are responsible. It’s how it works. You own a business and everything good and bad sits with you”.

“It would be best if they sold the club with some speed and efficiency and allowed at least the off the pitch items to be corrected properly that re-set the tone and culture”.

Many fans prefer Sheikh Jassim over Sir Ratcliffe, hoping to follow suit the success of Gulf investment into British clubs, such as the Saudi state owned Public Investment Fund takeover of Newcastle United, who have qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2003.

Nevertheless, unlike Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe does have experience of football ownership under his belt, as he has been the owner of French club OGC Nice since 2019.

However, his time at the club has been turbulent, with supporters accusing the owners of lack of quality of signings, leading to underwhelming finishes in the league standings, whereas before Ratcliffes takeover, Nice were a regular feature in the top four.

Solange Claude, the president of one of the club’s oldest supporters’ groups, criticised Ratcliffe, expressing his discontent in a interview with The Athletic.

“They want to go and buy Manchester United, so let them go; after four years, we have nothing and we don’t see anything coming, so it’s getting worse and worse.”

The saga does not look to have a confirmed end, and this uncertainty will most likely continue like this unless there is clarity from the Glazers.