According to a report from Sky News, Manchester United’s American owners, the Glazer family, are on the verge of finalizing a significant deal with British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.
This deal will see Ratcliffe acquire a 25% stake in the English soccer club, bringing an end to a year-long sale process initiated by the Glazer family, who announced their exploration of “strategic alternatives” for the club last November.
Ratcliffe’s offer comes in at a hefty $33 per share, representing a substantial premium of 79.1% over the stock’s closing price of $18.43 on Thursday.
This valuation places Manchester United at approximately $5.4 billion, excluding its debt. As a result of this news, the U.S.-listed shares of Manchester United experienced a 9.5% surge, reaching $20.10 in early trading.
While the Glazers will retain their ownership stake in the club, Ratcliffe’s involvement will usher in significant changes in the way Manchester United is operated.
He is determined to overhaul the club’s football operations, addressing its underperformance since the retirement of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
Ratcliffe has pledged to make sweeping changes, with Chief Executive Richard Arnold already set to depart from his position. Other executives are also expected to leave once the deal is finalized.
Ratcliffe’s vision extends to player recruitment, where he is likely to assume overall control, potentially addressing long-standing fan concerns over the Glazer family’s management of this critical aspect of the club.
The deal values Manchester United above Premier League rival Chelsea, which was sold for $5.2 billion in May to an investment group led by U.S. billionaire Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital.
Manchester United’s greater revenue and larger fan base contribute to its higher valuation.
Including debt, the deal values Manchester United at an estimated range of $6 billion to $6.5 billion.
Ratcliffe, who also chairs petrochemicals firm Ineos, is poised to play a pivotal role in the club’s future if the deal is finalized.
As for the Glazers, they have faced intense criticism from fans regarding their handling of various aspects of the club’s operations.
The deal’s structure would allow members of the Glazer family and other shareholders to partially cash out, although it remains unclear whether Ratcliffe intends a full takeover in the future or if the Glazers would entertain an outright sale.
Jim Ratcliffe, with a net worth of $18.7 billion according to Forbes, is no stranger to the world of sports business.
In addition to Manchester United, Ineos owns French Ligue 1 club Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport, and has partnerships with various sports teams, including the Grenadiers cycling team.