The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust have called on any new owner to be the ‘right change’ for the club and include an element of fan share ownership as speculation mounts over a potential takeover bid from Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
It emerged on Wednesday from American financial media firm Bloomberg that the Glazer family are seeking new investment in the club and prepared to sell a minority stake.
A spokesperson for Ratcliffe, who spent his early childhood in Manchester and is known as a United fan, later confirmed the 69-year-old’s desire to buy the club if it is for sale.
Ratcliffe has been billed as United’s saviour from 17 years of Glazer ownership, not least by the outspoken Michael Knighton, who has admitted the real aim of his own consortium’s takeover bid is to ‘smoke’ out a rival offer from the petrochemicals billionaire.
Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group already owns French club Nice following a €100m takeover in 2019, while he tried to get onto the Premier League ladder earlier this year with a £4.25bn offer for Chelsea.
He was unsuccessful due to the offer being made well after the submission deadline but it made clear some serious intentions. Journalist James Robson also interestingly tweeted this week: “Ratcliffe’s seemingly bizarre late bid for Chelsea was seen by industry insiders as a calling card for Manchester United – a notice of intent.”
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The statement from MUST on Thursday morning didn’t endorse or dismiss Ratcliffe as a potential new owner, rather laid out criteria the group want any prospective owner to meet.
“Speculation is mounting about a potential change of ownership or new investors at Manchester United. Whilst supporters have called for change, of course this has to be the right change,” MUST said.
“Any prospective new owner or investor has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club. They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories, and that investment must be real new money sent on the playing side and the stadium.
“Finally, any new ownership structure must embed supporters, including a degree of fan share ownership, in their operating model.
“These are the criteria supporters will judge any bid on. We are open to dialogue with any bidder, and look forward to such discussions.”