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Manchester United takeover: Sir Jim Ratcliffe completes deal to purchase 25 per cent of club

Sir Jim Ratcliffe purchased 25 per cent of Man Utd for £1.2bn; the deal gives the INEOS owner control of football operations, plus a say in the commercial side controlled by the Glazer family; Man Utd are not expected to be busy in the January window

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Who runs Man Utd now? Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains...

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has acquired 25 per cent of Manchester United and taken control of football operations.

An announcement finally came on Christmas Eve, bringing an end to 13 months of talks about a potential takeover of the Old Trafford club.

Ratcliffe is acquiring the interest for $33-a-share (£26) in a deal that "will include all aspects of the men's and women's football operations and academies" for his INEOS group, a statement said.

It is expected Sir Dave Brailsford - INEOS director of sport - and Jean-Claude Blanc - CEO of INEOS Sport and a former executive at Juventus and Paris St-Germain - will have seats on the Manchester United club board.

The deal, which comes amid a torrid season for United on the pitch, is still to be approved by the Premier League - a process expected to take between six and eight weeks.

There is no formal agreement for Ratcliffe to buy any of the Glazers' shares in the future but the Ineos chairman has the right of first refusal on any they sell in the future.

Ratcliffe will inject $300m (£237m) into the club for investment in its infrastructure, taking his immediate outlay to roughly $1.5bn (£1.2bn).

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Through Ratcliffe's INEOS Sport, United said they "will have access to seasoned high-performance professionals, experienced in creating and leading elite teams from both inside and outside the game".

What changes will Ratcliffe make?

Ratcliffe is aiming to have big say in how United is run before the transfer window opens in January, with Paul Mitchell in line to become the club's new sporting director, a role he currently performs at Monaco, having headed up recruitment at Southampton, Tottenham and RB Leipzig.

Jean Claude Blanc - CEO of INEOS Sport and a former executive at Juventus and Paris St-Germain - is under consideration to be chief executive, while cycling mastermind Dave Brailsford will also have a key role at United after carrying out an audit of club operations and transfer business.

Sky Sports News understands Erik ten Hag's position as head coach is not under immediate threat, but the Dutchman knows results need to improve.

Sir Dave Brailsford's record in cycling
Image: Sir Dave Brailsford's record in cycling

United's home is likely to need far more than £245m to deliver the overhaul that is required to turn it into one of the world's elite football stadia once more.

The redevelopment will be financed personally by the billionaire and will not add to Manchester United's existing borrowings.

Ratcliffe: We will bring the global knowledge, expertise and talent

Sir Jim Ratcliffe:

"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. 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.”

Who actually runs Man Utd now?

Analysis from Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"We have finally got there, but where have we got to? It is a step into the unknown, because we have got a situation where somebody is buying 25 per cent of a football club - but he is getting control of football operations and the Glazer family is giving away 25 per cent of football operations, which in my mind is an admission of failure.

"They are basically saying, since Sir Alex Ferguson left we haven't done the business on the pitch, we've tried everything, we've backed managers, we have given them money - it hasn't worked out.

"Now these new people have come along, they are only going to own 25 per cent of the club, but we are going to give them control of football.

"In a way it suits the Glazers as well, because they can take a step back and they are hoping, if things go wrong on the pitch, they are not the ones that are going to be blamed, it is going to be Ratcliffe and INEOS who are going to be blamed.

"But already speaking to people about this deal over the last couple of days, they are saying to me how is this going to work?

"You have just got an extra voice in the room now. So when it comes to signing players, for instance, or firing managers, you have just got an extra layer, an extra owner who is going to be in the mix when it comes to making these decisions.

"We are being told that Ratcliffe and INEOS are going to control football operations but at the end of the day they only own 25 per cent of the club. Is that really going to be the case going forward if things go wrong?"

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A 'get-out-of-jail-free card' for the Glazers? Analysis from football finance expert Kieran Maguire

The Glazers are still 'in'

"It is quite complicated, they are buying 25 per cent of the Class B shares owned by the Glazer family. Now these are super-voting shares, so although they only own 69 per cent of Manchester United, their shares come with voting rights, which means effectively they own 97 per cent of the club. They can make all the big decisions.

"Ratcliffe and INEOS have bought 25 per cent of those shares and they have also offered to buy 25 per cent of the Class A shares - they are the ones that are listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

"They are offering $33 a share, which is around £26, the same that they are offering to the Glazers as well, and the Board is recommending the shareholders on the New York Stock exchange accept that offer of $33 a share because that is far more than they have been trading at.

"I think it's going to happen, it's going to take a while because it is going to have to go through the regulatory process at the New York Stock Exchange.

"It Is ging to have to go through a regulatory process at the Premier League which is going to take six to eight weeks.

"But those United fans who want the Glazers out, the Glazers are still in."

Why did the deal take so long?

Ratcliffe's purchase of a 25 per cent stake in United comes more than a year after the Glazer family, which has controlled the club since 2005, began formally exploring a sale.

The Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday Ratcliffe's investment had been delayed by concerns about protections for minority shareholders.

These concerns have now been overcome, according to insiders.

The deal between the Glazers and Ratcliffe comes after months of negotiations with several potential buyers, including the Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, who wanted to acquire full control of the club.

On the pitch, United have lost 13 matches in all competitions this season. Only in 1930-31 (16) have they ever lost more before Christmas in a campaign, a season in which they finished bottom of the top flight.

The 2-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday left the club facing an uphill struggle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between West Ham and Manchester United

Several other key questions remain about United's future ownership, including whether Ratcliffe will ultimately seek overall control of the club.

Some United fans have expressed disquiet at the prospect of Ratcliffe buying a minority stake given that it paves the way for the Glazers' continued presence at Old Trafford.

The family, who paid just under £800m to buy the club in 2005, has remained inscrutable throughout the process and has said nothing of substance to the NYSE since the process of engaging with prospective buyers kicked off.

Earlier iterations of Ratcliffe's offers for the club, which focused on gaining outright control, included put-and-call arrangements that would become exercisable three years after a takeover to enable him to buy out the remainder of the club's shares.

The Monaco-based billionaire, who owns the Ligue 1 side Nice, pitched a restructured deal in October in an attempt to unblock the ongoing impasse over United's future.

In addition to the competing bids from Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, the Glazers received several credible offers for minority stakes or financing to fund investment in the club.

Part of the Glazers' justification for attaching such a huge valuation to the club resides in the possibility of it gaining greater control in future of its lucrative broadcast rights, alongside a belief that arguably the world's most famous sports brand can be commercially exploited more effectively.

The Glazers' tenure has been dogged by controversy and protests, with the absence of a Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement as manager in 2013 fuelling fans' anger at the debt-fuelled nature of their takeover.

Timeline of Man Utd takeover process

  • November 22, 2022: The Glazers confirm they are open to a sale but say other options "including new investment" will be considered.
  • February 17, 2023: Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani make rival bids for Man Utd takeover. Qatari wants to buy 100 per cent of the club.
  • February 18, 2023: US hedge fund Elliott Management lodge proposal for investment in Man Utd.
  • February 28, 2023: Glazers split on sale after bids fail to meet £6bn valuation.
  • March 5, 2023: Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe make it through to next stage of the process along with unnamed bidder.
  • March 10, 2023: Elliott Management make it through to the second stage of the Man Utd sale process.
  • March 16 & 17, 2023: Qatari group and Sir Jim Ratcliffe meet Raine Group at Old Trafford before being given access to detailed financial information. Sheikh Jassim stays away.
  • March 22, 2023: Raine extend deadline for second bids after requests from Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe. Elliott Management did make minority stake offer before the soft deadline.
  • March 23, 2023: Ratcliffe makes his second bid.
  • March 24, 2023: Sheikh Jassim makes his second bid.
  • April 11, 2023: The Glazers take the sale process to a third round with interested parties asked to submit final offers by end of April.
  • April 28, 2023: Sheikh Jassim makes world-record bid. Ratcliffe also makes his offer before the deadline.
  • May 16, 2023: Sheikh Jassim goes in with fourth bid close to £5bn. INEOS proposal values Man Utd at a higher price but is not for the whole club and would give Glazers chance to keep 20 per cent stake.
  • June 7, 2023: Sheikh Jassim submits a fifth improved bid.
  • October 14, 2023: Sheikh Jassim withdraws from process.
  • October 14, 2023: Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to agree £1.2bn deal for 25 per cent
  • December 24, 2023: Sir Jim Ratcliffe acquires 25 per cent of Man Utd

Neville: How must Man Utd staff feel ahead of Ratcliffe arrival?

Speaking after United's 2-0 defeat at West Ham, Gary Neville reflected on how the takeover will be affecting staff at the club, with changes expected once Ratcliffe and his team come in.

He told The Gary Neville Podcast: "I said this a few months ago, we know that there are new owners coming in and I said how must that make people inside the club feel?

"We know that the CEO has already left and gone early and you have heard all the reports coming out about what Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford are going to do.

"You can imagine how the atmosphere must be in there waiting for what will be the inevitable for probably 60 or 70 per cent of the staff. Can you imagine how they must feel? They must all feel, not undermined, they must all feel like 'let me get out of here quick'.

Carragher: If you want to watch Man Utd play well, go to UKTV Gold.

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher on The Gary Neville Podcast:

"I think with Jim Ratcliffe coming in - no club has a divine right to win anything, but you have got to make Manchester United box office again.

"He has got to get Manchester United back to being the team everybody wants to watch and is excited by with big games on Sky Sports. If you want to watch Manchester United play well now, you have got to go to UKTV Gold.

"You watch them against Manchester City, you watch them against Liverpool, and they are hanging on for dear life.

"There is a lot of competition in the Premier League but you have got to get them back to being exciting again and a team that people want to watch."

"Because the reality of it is they will probably have to at some point over the next few months anyway, because there is no doubt a new football director or sporting leader coming in which is what Jim Ratcliffe is. He's going to make sweeping changes, because it has been 10 years of failure. He's going to make lots and lots of changes.

"You almost get to the point where you write off this season, you finish as high up the league as you can, it obviously won't be the Champions League places, but can you get into the Europa League? And just almost forget about it and try and correct it. It's a really defeatist attitude, but I almost feel like that is where we are at.

"The owners [Glazers] said they were going to sell the club 12 months ago. How they didn't get that dealt with in the summer so that we started the season afresh [I don't know].

"They are now going to pass on the football department and Jim Ratcliffe is going to take their main worry away from them and they can just sit there and say 'it's not my fault anymore it's up to him over there'. If Jim Ratcliffe doesn't succeed, they can still just sit there and have their value in the club.

"If Jim Ratcliffe can sort it out, then great, and hopefully he will then have some sort of exit plan for the Glazer family in the next three or five years. But the Glazers can't lose now. They are sat there in America like they have always been knowing that the main target won't be them when it comes to the football, it's going to be someone else.

"It's an unbelievable position that they find themselves in. They are the great survivors."

The Glazers at Man Utd: The story of their turbulent tenure so far

With the Glazers staying at Manchester United as majority owners, Sky Sports' Dan Sansom takes an in-depth look at the Americans' turbulent tenure so far...

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