Ratcliffe, Ineos seal United investment deal

Featured image credit: Manchester United

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, the petrochemicals company he founded and chairs, have completed their deal for a minority stake in Manchester United, with the closure of the agreement set to allow plans to advance for Old Trafford stadium.

The English Premier League club announced competition of the transaction yesterday (Tuesday) evening after an initial deal was detailed on Christmas Eve. United and Trawlers Limited, an entity wholly-owned by Ratcliffe, have confirm that the boyhood United fan has completed his acquisition of 25% of the club’s Class B shares and 25% of the club’s Class A shares, following the satisfaction of all conditions, including approvals from the Football Association and the Premier League last week.

These shares, priced at $33 (£26.14/€30.53) each, grant the deal a valuation of $1.3bn. In November, it was announced that Ratcliffe would commit a further $300m from his personal wealth for what was described as “future investment” in United.

Following the closing of the initial offer and the acquisition of the Class B shares, Ratcliffe invested $200m into the club for additional Class A and Class B shares via a primary issuance, resulting in ownership of approximately 27.7% of the club’s Class A shares and 27.7% of the club’s Class B shares, with a further $100m to be invested by December 31. United yesterday said these funds are intended to enable future investment in infrastructure at Old Trafford.

Ratcliffe said: “To become co-owner of Manchester United is a great honour and comes with great responsibility. This marks the completion of the transaction, but just the beginning of our journey to take Manchester United back to the top of English, European and world football, with world-class facilities for our fans. Work to achieve those objectives will accelerate from today.”

Joel Glazer, United’s executive co-chairman, added: “I would like to welcome Sir Jim as co-owner and look forward to working closely with him and Ineos Sport to deliver a bright future for Manchester United.”

In April 2022, 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.

Earlier this week, United welcomed plans to regenerate the area around Old Trafford. Trafford Council announced a draft masterplan to redevelop the Trafford Wharfside area, which neighbours MediaCity, over the next 15 years. The Trafford Wharfside Development Framework has been prepared by the council in discussion with United and fellow major landowning partners Peel and Salford City Council.

The Council said the project will develop a “high-quality setting” for United as the club develops plans for a “world-class” stadium. Earlier this month, it was reported that Ratcliffe will push for a new stadium that would create a “Wembley of the North”, as part of his investment deal in United.

First reported by The Telegraph, Ratcliffe’s vision for United’s stadium future is said to be underpinned by the belief that the North of England deserves a venue to rival that of London’s Wembley Stadium.

It is believed that expanding the current 74,000-capacity stadium would cost at least £800m (€934.5m/$1.01bn), with a new stadium having a price tag in the range of £1.5bn to £2bn.

Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in England but has not been included on the list of host venues for UEFA Euro 2028, which will take place across the UK and Ireland, amid the uncertainty surrounding it.

In December, Populous backed the construction of a brand new stadium at the existing Old Trafford site. Populous senior principal and managing director for EMEA, Chris Lee, said a new stadium would be the most cost-effective option for the club to modernise while maintaining matchday revenues and respecting the club’s historic home.

Problems relating to the nearby railway line and existing stadium structure have been viewed as major challenges for a redevelopment of Old Trafford.