Who is planning to buy Manchester United?
Since Malcolm Glazer bought Manchester United in 2005, the fans have been desperate to see the back of him. Prior to Glazer’s ownership, Manchester United had been debt free since the 1930s when James Gibson, a British businessman, saved the club from bankruptcy. After Glazer’s takeover, the debt immediately increased to £660 million.
This is not the only problem Manchester United fans have with the Glazer family. There are estimations that the owners took around £1.6 billion out of the club.
Another problem is that Manchester United has not been competitive for major trophies since Alex Ferguson left the club. In the first eight years under the Glazer family, Manchester United won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, and the Champions League. Since the legendary coach retired, however, Manchester United has only won three major trophies despite spending around £1 billion on the transfer market.
In November 2022, the Glazer family announced that they are seeking reinvestment, partial, or a full sale of the club. Right now, the Glazer family owns 69% of Manchester United after some of the family members sold part of their share. According to sources, Joel and Avram Glazer are keen to stay as part of the new ownership, whereas the other four Glazer siblings are willing to sell every share they have in Manchester United.
There are reports that the club is worth between £4 and £5 billion, but the Glazer family projection is closer to £6 billion.
After the announcement in November, a few names emerged as potential buyers. The most serious seems to be Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of the chemicals group INEOS and the wealthiest man in Great Britain. Born in Oldham, a town in Greater Manchester, Ratcliffe is a Manchester United supporter from boyhood. The British billionaire already owns two football clubs – OGC Nice and Lausanne-Sport – but also the Formula 1 team Mercedes, through his company INEOS.
On 18th February, INEOS confirmed a bid submitted for Manchester United. In the announcement, the company expressed a desire to become long-term custodians of the club on behalf of the fans and the wider community. In the same announcement, INEOS stated that they want to invest in Manchester United to make them number one in the world again.
The other possible owner is the investment group fronted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani. After the official bid, Sheikh Jassim announced plans to return the club to its former glories, both on and off the pitch. In the same announcement, he confirmed that the group is interested in investing in the football teams, the training centre, the stadium, and wider infrastructure too.
In the following months, we’ll see who will become the next owner, but it seems that Manchester United fans can relax as they are likely to see the end of the Glazer family ownership.