Sir Jim Ratcliffe demands end to reckless Man Utd spending

Manchester United co owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England
Times are changing at Manchester United under Sir Jim Ratcliffe - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

Sir Jim Ratcliffe will demand Manchester United’s manager to prepare for next season within tight profit and sustainability rules (PSR) in a severe end to extravagant net spending.

Ratcliffe and his Ineos team are currently reviewing the position of Erik ten Hag and whoever is in charge is likely to be working under a budget a far cry from the £175 million spent on players last summer, with emphasis on youth brought into the first-team squad.

They can raise money through player sales, with Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho among other assets available, but complying with PSR is understood to be a serious consideration when planning recruitment. The tight pursestrings are why the club are prepared to listen to offers for vast majority of their squad bar rising stars such as Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund.

Ten Hag was backed in the market during his two summers at Old Trafford, spending more than £200 million in his first transfer window after arriving from Ajax in 2022, including the disastrous £86 million move for Brazil winger Antony.

Antony of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on May 12, 2024 in Manchester, England
The deal for Antony has been a disappointment - Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt

Transfer fees have contributed to United recording losses in their last two published annual accounts, which impacts spending. After years of making profit, United recorded losses of £115.5 million in 2021/22 and £28.7 million the following season.

Under PSR, clubs are allowed maximum losses of £105 million over a three-year period and United still need to tread a very careful path on spending despite qualifying for the Europa League at the weekend when Ten Hag inspired their FA Cup final win over Manchester City.

After the win, Ten Hag was seen in deep conversation with Toby Collyer, 20, who travelled with the squad and is regarded as a player with first-team potential. Harry Amass, 17, has arrived from Watford’s Academy and is also highly thought of.

While Ten Hag has overseen United’s worst Premier League finish, he has brought through Kobbie Mainoo who has forced his way into the England squad. With net spending limited, it is thought that young players coming through will be an important way United function going forward.

Ratcliffe himself has publicly stressed the importance of PSR when he spoke on the Cycling Club podcast last season. “One of the new issues in football is FFP [financial fair play - PSR] where you have to live within your means so the more means you’ve got the better you can live in a way.”

Pre-Ineos taking control of football operations at United, managers have been backed in the market by the Glazer family during their period of decline. They broke the Premier League transfer record to sign Paul Pogba for £89.3 million, while moves for Romelu Lukaku, Antony, Harry Maguire and Sancho still rank among the biggest deals in the Premier League.

Their marquee signings have struggled from the days of Angel Di Maria arriving from Real Madrid. This season has seen Sancho reach the Champions League final while on loan back at Borussia Dortmund after falling out with Ten Hag, while Antony has struggled in English football.

Manchester United's Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford in Manchester, Britain, 14 September 2014
Angel Di Maria was one of the first big-money signings to struggle at Old Trafford in the post-Ferguson era - EPA/Peter Powell

Another expensive signing in Casemiro has been guilty of errors and, with interest from Saudi Arabia this summer, will be allowed to leave if the right offer arrives.

The Brazilian cost £60 million plus £10 million in add-ons and arrived in 2022 at 30 years old with limited resale value. United will be looking for the Saudi market to open up, which would help the likes of Casemiro to be leave. Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial will leave the club this summer, saving them £500,000 a week on wages and giving them some valuable wriggle room for a signing.

United’s players will take a 25 per cent cut in their salaries under the terms of their contracts after failing to qualify for the Champions League. The move will help reduce the shortfall between playing in Europe’s elite competition and its second-tier equivalent, though the club will miss out on the huge windfalls that would come with deep progression in the Champions League.

Since gaining 27.7 per cent of United, Ineos have assumed football operation and made changes to the club. Dan Ashworth has been targeted as sporting director and is currently on gardening leave at Newcastle, while Jason Wilcox has started as technical director.

Behind the scenes Ratcliffe has ended the club’s flexible work-from-home policy. United staff have been given until next Wednesday to decide if they wish to voluntarily resign under Ineos’ new drive to end working from home.

Staff have also been told to vacate their workspaces at Carrington ahead of a summer refurbishment running into next season to modernise the club’s training base. Ratcliffe  paid £1.03 billion for a quarter shareholding plus an additional £237 million to spend on infrastructure which is part of the training base upgrade.