Thursday, April 25, 2024

Sir Jim Ratcliffe – boyhood fan who has bought 25 per cent of Manchester United

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Feb 2024

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe has become part owner of Manchester United as one of the UK’s richest men has bought a 25 per cent stake in the club he supported as a boy.

The billionaire has bought a share in the Old Trafford club, worth a reported £1.25billion, in a long and drawn-out process after Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani withdrew his early interest in buying the club outright.

The 71-year-old has a reported net worth of £12.5bn thanks to the success of global chemical company Ineos, which has enjoyed exponential growth since he founded it in 1998, and will assume delegated responsibility for the club’s football operations. He will also invest an additional 300 million US dollars (£236.7m) into the club’s infrastructure.

Ratcliffe has been chairman throughout and has seen the company go from 400 employees to 26,000 and annual revenues of around £52.5bn.

Ineos has diversified its interests over the years to incorporate consumer brands and sports interests, which now includes the club Ratcliffe grew up supporting.

Born in Failsworth in 1952, a “quite deep-rooted” passion for United grew as he spent the first 10 years of his life in the Greater Manchester town.

Ratcliffe’s family eventually moved to Hull before he went onto to study chemical engineering at Birmingham University, then gain an MBA from London Business School.

He began his career at Exxon Chemicals before moving to Courtaulds and in 1992 led the buyout of Inspec Group plc, mortgaging his house to help complete that deal.

Six years on, he bought a plant in Antwerp, Belgium from Inspec for £84m and formed Ineos, which has gone onto become a chemical giant.

Ratcliffe – who received a knighthood in 2018 for services to business and investment – remains chairman of the company, which has developed a varied sporting portfolio over recent years.

Ineos Grenadiers are a leading professional cycling team and Sir Ben Ainslie-led Ineos Britannia is the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup.

The company is principal partner to the Mercedes Formula One team, performance partner to New Zealand’s rugby union teams and supported Eliud Kipchoge’s bid to run a sub two-hour marathon.

Ineos is now looking to take its football ownership to another level, having taken over Swiss Super League team FC Lausanne-Sport in 2017 and acquired Ligue 1 club Nice two years later.

In 2022, Ratcliffe saw a last-ditch £4.25bn bid for Chelsea – a club he grew a “split allegiance” for during his time in London – rejected.

“I am a season ticket holder at Chelsea,” the billionaire told the Daily Telegraph in 2018. “Have been for years, although I’m a Manchester United fan really. Or was… but it’s not getting any better (at United).

“It’s gone from bad to catastrophic. Talk about a glass half-empty.”

Things have improved on the field lately but there is plenty of work to do away from it, which is why so many United fans are grateful that Ratcliffe has bought a stake in the club.

He said in October 2022 that he “can’t sit around hoping that one day Manchester United will become available” after Joel and Avram Glazer indicated to him that they did not want to sell.

But the following announcement that a full or partial takeover would be considered moved the goalposts, paving the way for Ratcliffe’s investment in United.

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