Sir Jim Ratcliffe is hoping to have his minority stake offer for 25% of Manchester United confirmed ahead of the January transfer window, with the INEOS owner “eager” for signings in the window.
Figures close to to the deal have described the price Ratcliffe is willing to pay (£1.35 billion) as a “premium” – one which only makes sense if certain clauses are included.
These pertain to INEOS being granted full control over the football operation at Old Trafford, as well as mechanisms in place to enable an eventual full takeover.
ESPN sources have revealed Ratcliffe is acutely aware of the potential ramifications of this proposal on the United fan base, however.
The offer – which allows the Glazer family to retain majority control of the club in immediacy – falls far short of what many fans were hoping to see, particularly when the rumoured details of the Qatari bid were considered.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the head of the Nine Two Foundation, withdrew his bid to buy the club last week, citing frustration with the Glazers’ “fanciful” valuation, believing they never intended to fully relinquish control of United.
Fabrizio Romano explained the extent of what the Nine Two Foundation’s bid entailed on X (formerly known as Twitter):
🔴 Sheikh Jassim believes he would have been the dream owner for Man United.
Fully cash bid, clearing all old debt, with zero new debt, for 100% of the club.
He is the only bidder who has offered to buy 100% of Manchester United.
🇶🇦 Investment package was worth more than $8B. pic.twitter.com/XaWsLkQLTL
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 15, 2023
While we may never know to what extent this outlined proposal would have translated into reality, the mere prospect stands at firm odds with the certainty of the Glazers remaining.
Ratcliffe, who sources describe as “conscious” of this negativity, believes a “positive January transfer window” would go some way towards “appeasing” an exasperated fanbase. This infers United may set to enter the winter window with an unusually active approach.
The report by ESPN contends, however, that the long-standing issues at United, of both debt and Financial Fair Play, mean a busy January may not be possible, despite Ratcliffe’s best intentions.
“But there are fears that financial fair play (FFP) restrictions will make business hard to do, particularly because there are no current plans to wipe away the club’s debt. Payments on the debt — figures released in March showed United owe close to £1bn — would help increase the budget for transfers but, as things stand, there is little room for manoeuvre after committing £178 million on players ahead of the new season.”
It remains to be seen how effective a new owner of the sporting operation at United can be without the full support of the business side of the club.