Britian’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe owns French football club Nice and until last week, had shown no interest in buying an English club. Last month that changed.
Ratcliffe entered as a late candidate in the Chelsea takeover race, with the club up for sale. This came as a surprise, not least because the Failsworth born billionaire is a Manchester United supporter
Chelsea takeover falls short, potentially opening Manchester United door
Ratcliffe’s Chelsea takeover bid fell short. BBC report LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly has been chosen as the preferred bidder, with the details set to be finalised in late May.
This leaves Ratcliffe with £4 billion he was ready to spend, burning a hole in his deep pockets – amid a newly expressed desire to invest in English football.
Now could he turn his attentions to Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy?
Ratcliffe was asked about Manchester United last week, amid his Chelsea efforts, asked why he was not looking towards the Red Devils instead.
He told BBC Sport: “Yes I can understand that.. but Manchester United’s not for sale.”
Every club has a price
Every club has a price, even Manchester United. And the figures appear to fit. BBC Sport reported his bid for Chelsea was set to be worth £4.25 billion.
The numbers were broken down, by United’s share price at the time of £2.1 billion, with the Glazers then rounding this up to £3 billion to maximise their profit.
The report then claimed banks and lenders would insist on a further billion taking the sum to £4 billion, to cover the club’s debts.
This is a extortionate figure – but one Ratcliffe could afford. The Star report he is worth at least £12 billion, with some estimates far higher.
Smoking the Glazers out?
What if Ratcliffe is playing the long game, and this was his plan all along? He arrived as a late bidder for Chelsea, when Boehly’s consortium were already several weeks into the process. It was always an uphill battle.
Then came the pre-recorded TV interview with a notable question on Manchester United. Ratcliffe did not shy away from an interest in the Red Devils, simply stating his path was blocked.
Could he be attempting to pile pressure on the Glazers to sell, and attempting to smoke them out and change their minds? He has the money and the interest, and he knows he would have fan momentum behind him.
Manchester United fans have been campaigning against the Glazers for years, and recently re-mobilised efforts would reach a new level if there is a clear end goal, with a prospective buyer.
This has been the problem for the anti-Glazer movement over the past 17 years. There has not appeared to be a saviour on the horizon. Ratcliffe could potentially become that, the investor who helps tip it all over the edge.
Come on then Jim, what are you waiting for?