Sir Jim Ratcliffe may have appeared to dash hopes of a Manchester United takeover yesterday, but his interview with the Financial Times could perhaps be a big indicator that a bid is likely.
It is clear that the INEOS Founder and Chairman retains a strong interest in purchasing United, having declared himself “a lifelong fan.”
He also expressed his commitment to acquiring a “Premier club” in football, with only a tentative nod to Nice’s history while doing so.
But a bigger indicator was his comments that “If it had been for sale in the summer, yes we would probably have had a go.”
He also confirmed that he had “met Joel and Avram.” Since these are the two members of the Glazer family most involved with the running of the club, it is difficult to imagine that talks about Ratcliffe’s interest did not appear on the agenda.
While Ratcliffe’s comments on the Glazers’ stance (“They don’t want to sell it”) seemingly poured cold water on the hopes fans harbour for the family’s removal, it is a clear indicator of what questions Ratcliffe had asked.
The British billionaire still wants to buy Manchester United – that much remains obvious.
And while he insists that he “can’t sit around hoping one day Manchester United will become available,” fans should not be too disheartened.
An asset of United’s size is unlikely to officially be for sale until the point that offers start to appear and there have been signs of the Glazers’ grip on the Red Devils loosening over the last few years.
The Peoples Person previously reported on the Glazer family’s attempt to sell a 30% stake in the club to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund for £700m, prior to their outright purchase of Newcastle United.
While that stake would not have allowed interference from the potential investor, it does give an insight into what the Glazers value the club at.
A full takeover may yet be some way off, but with divisions reportedly visible among the Glazers, the potential is there for a ‘divide and conquer strategy.’
Ratcliffe himself referenced how United is “owned by the six children of the father,” straight off the back of the “They don’t want to sell it” remark.
However The Athletic has previously reported that, while Joel Glazer certainly has no interest in relinquishing control of the club, Bryan, Kevin, Ed, and Darcy Glazer are all “less wedded” to the notion of owning a football club.
The suggestion that at least four of the six Glazer children might be open to selling could offer a crucial advantage for Ratcliffe, who would surely be aware of any potential divisions among the Tampa Bay family.
His interview may even widen such cracks given he repeatedly affirmed his interest in making a formal offer, should the club ever be available.
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