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Manchester United sale saga: What Sheikh Jassim was offering, and what Jim Ratcliffe will bring to the table

Nearly a year after Manchester United was put up for sale, the English football club still remains in the hands of the Glazer family — much to the dismay of the team’s supporters.

News that Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani was withdrawing from the bidding process appeared to leave the door open for British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe. However, the owner of petrochemicals giant Ineos is reportedly only looking to buy a minority 25 per cent stake in United, which would leave the Glazers as majority shareholders.

Who are the Glazers?

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Manchester United fans display a Glazers Out banner inside the stadium.

Credit: Reuters Photo

The Glazers is an American family that also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They, last November, announced plans to seek new investment and instructed US merchant bank Raine to oversee the process, which included the potential of a full sale.

The club was bought by late tycoon Malcolm Glazer in 2005 for 790 million pounds.w

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Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of British petrochemicals company INEOS.

Credit: Reuters Photo

Who are the parties interested in buying the club?

Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who was born in Manchester and has been a United fan since childhood, has had ambitions to buy the club for a long time.

Through Ineos, he initially planned to buy out the Glazers’ share of about 69 per cent and spoke of a “modern, progressive, fan-centered approach to ownership.”

The deal structure that Ratcliffe has proposed would allow members of the Glazer family, as well as other shareholders, to partially cash out.

Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the matter, that Ratcliffe will pay over $1.5 billion for a 25 per cent stake in the club if his offer is accepted by the Glazers.

Noted Italian sports journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that part of Ratcliffe’s deal is expected to give him control over the football and sporting operations of the club.

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Sheikh Jassim.

Credit: Instagram/fabriziorom

Sheikh Jassim, on the other hand, is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank and the son of a former Qatari prime minister.

While Ratcliffe wanted a minority stake in the club, Jassim was bidding to take full ownership of the club.

This appealed to fans who are critical of the current owners and are desperate to rid the club of the Glazers.

Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim were the only two bidders to publicly declare their intention to take control of United, while other minority investors were also reported.

How did Jim Ratcliffe make his fortune?

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, born in Lancashire in England, is the founder and chairman of Ineos Group, one the world’s largest chemical companies.

Ineos, founded in 1998, has its operations in various industries, which include chemicals, oil and gas, and automotive. It operates across Europe, North America, along with other parts around the globe.

The 2023 Sunday Times Rich List states that the chemical tycoon’s current worth is at 29.3 billion pounds, making him the second richest man in the UK, behind Gopichand Hinduja, who owns the Hinduja Group.

He is also ranked number 102 on the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.

As an avid lover of the sport, he also owns French club Nice as well as Lausanne-Sport FC in Switzerland.

(Published 18 October 2023, 12:11 IST)

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