British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of petrochemicals company Ineos, will reportedly commit an initial £245m (€281.5m/$301.6m) of his personal fortune to improving Manchester United’s infrastructure as part of his bid to acquire a minority stake in the English Premier League football club.
Sky News reported today (Friday) that Ratcliffe will pledge the investment alongside the acquisition of a 25% shareholding likely to be worth more than £1.25bn. The investment designed for United’s facilities would be staggered, with the majority of it released by the end of the year.
It is believed the £245m would be financed by Ratcliffe personally and would not add to United’s significant existing borrowings, which currently stand at around $650m (£528.2m/€607.1m). A deal could be completed later this month and it was reported last month that Ineos is considering the possibility of expanding the capacity Old Trafford stadium to 90,000 if Ratcliffe is successful in his bid.
It earlier emerged that Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani had withdrawn his offer to buy United outright. Both Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe had submitted bids for a majority stake in the club, but they reportedly failed to meet the valuation set by the Glazer family, which has owned United since 2005, of between £5bn and £6bn.
The redevelopment of Old Trafford has been viewed as a key element in any takeover of the club, with the stadium having fallen behind those of United’s rivals in recent years. Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have moved to new homes, while Liverpool has carried out extensive redevelopment work at Anfield.
Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in England but it has not been included on the list of host venues for UEFA Euro 2028, which will take place across the UK and Ireland.
In April last year, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a masterplan for the redevelopment of Old Trafford. Later in the year, United issued a statement announcing the commencement of a process to consider new investment into the club and a sale. The review also included the redevelopment of Old Trafford.
It later emerged that a demolition of the stadium and the building of a brand-new home was one of the options presented to United. Options to refurbish and expand the stadium were also presented.
Ineos and Ratcliffe have invested heavily in sport in recent years. The company owns French Ligue 1 football club OGC Nice and holds a 33-per-cent stake in Formula 1 team Mercedes-AMG Petronas. Ineos also owns a UCI WorldTour cycling team, Ineos Grenadiers, and backs Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup sailing outfit, Ineos Britannia.
United last week posted record revenue of £648.4m for the 2023 financial year, with the figures driven by new match attendance and hospitality landmarks. Matchday revenue rose year-on-year from £110.5m to £136.4m. Commercial revenue was also a key contributing factor to the overall total, rising from £257.8m to £302.9m.
The club slashed its net loss by 75% year-on-year – £28.7m versus £115.5m in the prior year.