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Revealed | Details emerge as Glazers expected to sell Manchester United with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and other billionaires on alert

Ratcliffe is one of a cadre of potential billionaire buyers that are keeping tabs on the global sporting giant, with the club’s future looking increasingly likely to eventually be in new hands

The future of Manchester United looks set to take a welcomed turn at long last after the Glazer family is primed to sell the global sporting giant.

Owners Joel and Avram Glazer, who are also at the head of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as real-estate holding company First Allied Corporation and controlling company HRG Group Inc, have had a controlling interest in United dating back to 2005, but have led to a nightmare scenario to millions of fans at home and abroad.

Under their unwatchful eye, United – arguably the biggest football club on the planet – has been saddled with massive debt since the inception of the Glazer regime after money borrowed to complete the club takeover was transferred to the club, taking it from a debt-free operation to – as of 2019 – a standing debt of £400m while the English giants had paid £1bn in interest by that same year.

But according to Goal’s Manchester United correspondent James Robson, the Glazers are at the point where they are looking to move on from Red Devils’ ownership after mounting pressure from fans across the last few years.

Despite the massive debt the club has been made to endure over a seventeen-year period, United remains one of the biggest sports franchises in the world.

As of 2021 according to Forbes’ analysis, Old Trafford plays host to the eleventh-most valuable sporting entity on earth and the fourth-most valuable football club behind Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich, with a valuation of £3.7bn as of May 2022.

Enter Sir Jim Ratcliffe; Manchester area native and English billionaire chairman and CEO of the Ineos Chemicals Group, and the leading candidate to prize United from the dreaded Glazer grip.

It was reported just two days ago that Ratcliffe was angling to throw his hat into the ring to consider a move to take control of his boyhood club in the wake of making an unsuccessful late bid to take over at Chelsea. When asked why he made a move for Chelsea at first, Ratcliffe was quoted as saying “Manchester United is not for sale.”

As pointed out by Robson, the notion that Ratcliffe is an area native would go down incredibly well with the club’s supporters who have long hated how out of touch their current American overlords certainly are when it comes to anything related to United.

But the reality remains that a club of the size, prestige, scope, and gargantuan financial potential, Ratcliffe will not have a free shot at negotiations with the Glazers as a cadre of fellow billionaires are also keeping tabs on the situation in the northwest of England.

That list is said to include The Ricketts family (owners of the MLB franchise the Chicago Cubs) who are backed by US hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who is worth around £22bn, with the family already being linked with interest in a United purchase.

Other possibilities include Steve Pagliuca (owner of NBA franchise the Boston Celtics and Serie A outfit Atalanta Bergamo), as well as Woody Johnson (owner of NFL franchise the New York Jets), and mooted interest from Saudi Media Group.

All told, should United successfully be sold on, it would constitute the biggest sale of any sports team in history, but that fee will likely not deter any serious buyer who is looking to get their hands on a Premier League juggernaut as the top flight of English football is financially projected to go nowhere but up in the future.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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