British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe would be interested in buying Manchester United if the club was for sale, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday
A spokesperson for Ratcliffe earlier told The Times of his desire to buy into the Premier League giants.
“If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” Ratcliffe’s spokesperson said. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.”
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Ratcliffe’s comments follow a report from Bloomberg on Wednesday that Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, would consider selling a minority stake in the club. Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier said his plan to buy the Premier League club was all part of “a long-running joke.”
United are enduring a disastrous start to the season, losing their first two games to sink to the foot of the Premier League table. They have not won the Premier League title since 2013.
The Glazers have been the target of intense criticism for their failure to invest in the team who have not won a trophy in five years. United’s net debt had grown 11% to about £496 million pounds ($598.03 million) by the end of March.
The owners have also been criticised for not improving the Old Trafford stadium, the biggest club ground in the country with a capacity of around 75,000 fans.
Ratcliffe, who owns petrochemicals giant Ineos, made a late unsuccessful bid of £4.25 billion to buy Chelsea earlier this year before it was ultimately sold to an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
However, he is from the Manchester area and a long-standing fan of the club.
“This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent. Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset,” the spokesperson added.
United finished sixth last season in their worst Premier League campaign with respect to points earned, failing to qualify for the lucrative UEFA Champions League.
The club hired manager Erik ten Hag from Ajax in a bid to turn around their fortunes but the Dutchman has not yet succeeded in imposing his playing style, with United losing their opening two games after conceding six goals.
United play their arch-rivals Liverpool, who scored nine times without reply in their two league meetings last season, at Old Trafford on Monday.
Information from ESPN correspondent Rob Dawson and Reuters was used in this report.