Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a passionate Manchester United supporter, poised to acquire 25% stake in the club

    The Glazer family’s search for new investors in Manchester United reached its one-year mark on Wednesday, with childhood fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe still poised to buy a 25 per cent stake in the club in the coming days.

    United’s owners announced on November 22 last year – during the Premier League World Cup break – that they were “exploring strategic options”, including selling the club outright.

    A year later, Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of chemicals company Ineos, is believed to be on the verge of a £1.25 billion deal to take a 25 per cent stake in United, but sources have indicated that an announcement may not be made now. next year. a week.

    If, as expected, no deal is announced on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, the earliest date anything can be confirmed will be Monday, with the US Thanksgiving holiday period kicking off on Thursday.

    Ratcliffe is set to take significant control of United’s football operations as part of his investment when it is finally confirmed. It was also reported that he would provide an additional £245 million to upgrade the club’s infrastructure.

    At one stage a takeover was in the cards, with Ratcliffe and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim the publicly announced figures vying to complete the Glazer buyout.

    Sheikh Jassim’s interest was first confirmed in February, but he pulled out last month.

    Sheikh Jassim’s bid was believed to have ended up being almost double the Premier League club’s market valuation of $3.2bn (£2.6bn) as of October.

    Qatar was also believed to be willing to commit an additional $1.7 billion (£1.4 billion) to infrastructure projects.

    The Glazers took over at United in 2005 with a £790m debt buyout, but throughout their tenure they faced significant opposition from fans, which has only intensified in recent years at a club that has won the Premier League since 2013.

    Tensions have risen markedly in 2021, with the owners heavily involved in plans to create a European Super League, which were quickly abandoned following fan protests and opposition from domestic and international football’s governing bodies.

    United announced last week that Richard Arnold would step down as chief executive after less than two years in the job.

    Sources close to Ineos indicated that they were not involved in Arnold’s departure, but it is likely that further changes will occur after the deal is signed.

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