Sir Jim Ratcliffe finally completes £1.3bn deal to buy 27.7 per cent of Manchester United

A billboard hails the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Old Trafford (AFP via Getty Images)
A billboard hails the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Old Trafford (AFP via Getty Images)

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has formally completed his £1.3bn deal to buy a quarter of Manchester United.

The petrochemicals billionaire has bought 27.7 per cent of shares in the club, reducing the stake of the Glazer family, in a purchase that values United at over £5bn.

The 71-year-old, a boyhood United fan from the Manchester suburb of Failsworth, became one of Britain’s richest men through his company, Ineos.

Ratcliffe funded the deal with his own money, with SEC filings reporting that he had $4bn in liquid assets and was worth significantly more than that, and via a company, Trawlers Limited, that was named after a quote from Eric Cantona.

Ratcliffe will get control of football operations and has already begun to reshape United, with the City Football Group’s Omar Berrada – who has been put on gardening leave – being hired to become their next chief executive and Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth targeted for the role at Old Trafford.

Ratcliffe will also invest $300m (£238m) of infrastructure, which will take his stake in the club to 29 per cent. It is expected to go towards the stadium, with options involving redeveloping some of the stands at Old Trafford or building a new ground on the plot of land.

“To become co-owner of Manchester United is a great honour and comes with great responsibility. This marks the completion of the transaction, but just the beginning of our journey to take Manchester United back to the top of English, European and world football, with world-class facilities for our fans. Work to achieve those objectives will accelerate from today,” Ratcliffe said, upon completion of the deal.

Joel Glazer, executive co-chairman, added: “I would like to welcome Sir Jim as co-owner and look forward to working closely with him and INEOS Sport to deliver a bright future for Manchester United.”

The Glazer family, who bought United in 2005, will remain the biggest shareholders but their stake in the club will be smaller than it was.

Ratcliffe’s investment was confirmed after the both the FA and the Premier League gave their approval, with the businessman passing the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test.

On Christmas Eve, United announced a deal for Ratcliffe to take a 25 per cent stake in the club, including a quarter of all Class A and Class B shares, paying $33 for each, which is far above the stock-market price. Class B shares carry more voting rights while the owners of 36 per cent of Class A shares were willing to sell to Ratcliffe. The process was always expected to take up to eight weeks, together with getting regulatory approval.

It brings to an end a 15-month period which began when the Glazers started exploring options for a sale in November 2022. The Qatari billionaire Sheikh Jassim made five offers for the club, wanting 100 per cent ownership, while Ratcliffe bid first for a majority and then a minority shareholding.

The 71-year-old will get two seats on the football club board, which will go to the cycling supremo Sir Dave Brailsford and the former Juventus CEO Jean-Claude Blanc.

The Ineos co-founder John Reece and Rob Nevin, the chairman of Ineos Sport, are set to take up places on the plc board.

Ratcliffe will also have first right of approval if the Glazers choose to sell any of their shares in next year, while he would be obliged to sell them all of his shares if they decide on a full sale in 18 months’ time.