The billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest people, has stated an interest in buying Manchester United from the club’s beleaguered owners, the Glazer family.
Ratcliffe, who is from Greater Manchester, had previously wanted to purchase Chelsea from Roman Abramovich but has now turned his attention to United.
“If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” a spokesperson for Ratcliffe told the Times. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”
The Glazers have faced hostility since Malcolm Glazer purchased United in 2005 via a leveraged financial model which loaded a debt on the club that still stands at around £500m, 17 years later.
Erik ten Hag’s team are bottom of the Premier League after losing their opening two games of the new season. The manager hopes to strengthen the side this summer but the club have had a series of failed bids for players. An ageing Old Trafford also requires upgrading or being replaced completely. All of this has caused fresh protests against the Glazers from disaffected fans.
“This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent,” Ratcliffe’s spokesperson said. “Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”
The 69-year-old is the majority owner and chief executive of Ineos, with the chemicals group already proprietor of Nice in France’s Ligue 1.
A Bloomberg report claimed the Glazers are open to selling a minority stake in United but, when approached on Wednesday evening by the Guardian, the club declined to comment.