British billionaire Ratcliffe joins Man Utd takeover race – reports


British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has submitted a bid to buy Manchester United through his chemicals company INEOS, according to reports.

Ratcliffe, a lifelong United fan, will be up against Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Al Thani.

Qatar Islamic Bank chairman Al Thani, who is the son of a former Qatari prime minister, earlier confirmed he tabled an offer that will not carry any debt and vowed to reinvest all profits during his stewardship back into the club or community.

Al Thani's offer was made public roughly two hours before an apparent 'soft deadline' of 22:00 GMT on Friday, though the exact figure on the table was not revealed.

Ratcliffe had previously been the first to formally lodge an interest last month after the incumbent owners – the Glazer family – announced in November the club had been put up for sale.

The Telegraph quoted a source close to INEOS as saying: "His aim is to be a long-term custodian of Manchester United and set the standard for a progressive approach to club ownership.

"As locally born, he wants to put the Manchester back into Manchester United."

The Glazers have been deeply unpopular among supporters during their 18 years as stewards, predominantly down to their initial takeover coming in the form of a leveraged buyout, which saddled the club with huge debts.

In United's most recent financial figures, released in September, the club revealed their net debt increased from £419.5million to £514.9m in the year up to June 30, 2022.

Speculation over the past few months has run wild with regard to prospective buyers, with Elon Musk, Apple, Jeff Bezos, and a Saudi Arabian consortium all credited with varying degrees of interest.

But talk of Ratcliffe and a separate Qatari-backed bid had long gathered the most traction in the media, and it is the former many United fans are thought to favour.

Ratcliffe's company INEOS already owns Ligue 1 side Nice and has been routinely linked with Premier League clubs in recent years, even tabling an offer for Chelsea in 2022 prior to their sale to Todd Boehly and his Clearlake consortium.

His long-held affinity for United is an understandable positive for fans hoping for a return of the glory days.

Though, for many fans, siding with Ratcliffe comes as much from a place of uncertainty due to the Qatari bid's potential ties to Qatar's state.

The 2022 World Cup host nation has been widely derided for its human rights record ever since being given that tournament in 2010.