Manchester United have confirmed they have agreed to sell a minority stake to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with the INEOS chairman also committed to investing another $300 million into the club.
Ratcliffe has acquired a 25% stake in the club in a deal worth around £1.3 billion ($1.6bn) and will also take responsibility for football operations at United.
A statement issued on Sunday said his further $300m commitment is “intended to enable future investment into Old Trafford.”
“As a local boy and a lifelong supporter of the club, I am very pleased that we have been able to agree a deal with the Manchester United board that delegates us management responsibility of the football operations of the club,” Ratcliffe said in the statement. “Whilst the commercial success of the club has ensured there have always been available funds to win trophies at the highest level, this potential has not been fully unlocked in recent times.
“We will bring the global knowledge, expertise and talent from the wider INEOS Sport group to help drive further improvement at the club, while also providing funds intended to enable future investment into Old Trafford.
“We are here for the long term and recognise that a lot of challenges and hard work lie ahead, which we will approach with rigour, professionalism and passion. We are committed to working with everyone at the club — the board, staff, players and fans — to help drive the club forward.
“Our shared ambition is clear: we all want to see Manchester United back where we belong, at the very top of English, European and world football.”
Ratcliffe will acquire 25% of the club’s Class B shares, previously exclusively held by the Glazer family, and up to 25% Class A shares, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
A source told ESPN that two seats on the football board will go to Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc.
There’s no formal agreement for Ratcliffe to become full owner of United, but he would get first refusal should the Glazers decide to sell more shares.
“We are delighted to have agreed this deal with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS,” executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer said in the statement. “As part of the strategic review we announced in November 2022, we committed to look at a variety of alternatives to help enhance Manchester United, with a focus on delivering success for our men’s, women’s and Academy teams.
“Sir Jim and INEOS bring a wealth of commercial experience as well as significant financial commitment into the Club. And, through INEOS Sport, Manchester United will have access to seasoned high-performance professionals, experienced in creating and leading elite teams from both inside and outside the game. Manchester United has talented people right across the club and our desire is to always improve at every level to help bring our great fans more success in the future.”
The news comes more than a year after the Glazers announced they were “exploring strategic alternatives for the club” including accepting investment or sanctioning a full sale.
Despite interest from Ratcliffe and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani in a full takeover at Old Trafford, the Glazers opted to accept Ratcliffe’s offer to buy a minority stake. Under the terms of the agreement, the Glazers will remain at the club as majority shareholders.
The Glazers have been deeply unpopular with fans since their heavily leveraged buyout of the club in 2005.
A statement from Manchester United Supporters Trust reacting to the announcement said: “Today might — just might — be a step forward for Manchester United after some very difficult years. But with the Glazers still in charge, people should understand that United fans will remain sceptical and wait for the proof in the pudding.”
Ahead of confirmation of Ratcliffe’s involvement at United, CEO Richard Arnold announced he would be stepping down. Patrick Stewart was named interim CEO with Arnold providing “transitional support” until the end of December.
United’s statement also said Ratcliffe’s management responsibilities “will include all aspects of the men’s and women’s football operations and Academies, alongside two seats on the Manchester United PLC board and the Manchester United Football Club boards.
“The joint ambition is to create a world-class football operation building on the Club’s many existing strengths, including the successful off-pitch performance that it continues to enjoy.”