EPL

I’m not sure he exists – Jim Ratcliffe unsure about takeover rival Sheikh Jassim

By Sports Desk February 21, 2024

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has jokingly questioned whether his Manchester United takeover rival Sheikh Jassim even exists after completing the purchase of a minority stake in the Red Devils.

Ratcliffe and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim were the two public bidders looking to take full control of United from the Glazer family which has owned the club since 2005, before Ratcliffe’s focus switched to securing a smaller stake.

His Ineos company now controls football operations as part of a deal which will see him own 28.9 per cent of the club by the year’s end.

Reflecting on the long road to the completion of the deal, Ratcliffe admitted he did find it strange that there was an apparent lack of interest in buying United in comparison to when Chelsea came onto the market in 2022 and that his main rival for full control was someone who “still nobody has ever seen”.

“The Glazers never met him. I’m not sure he exists,” he joked.

“It was extraordinary. That (apparent lack of wider interest) was confounding. There’s no comparison between Chelsea and Manchester United, the scale of Manchester United is incomparable with any of the London clubs to be honest with you.”

Asked whether he thought he may have been bidding alone rather than against Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe said: “They (the Qatari bid) were obviously there and there was a whole host of people on the team, on the squad. I didn’t ever meet them. But it was a very odd affair.”

Representatives who worked with Sheikh Jassim during the period of his interest in United have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency.

Ratcliffe was asked about whether he held a long-term ambition to ultimately gain full control of United and whether he was concerned that ‘drag-along’ rights held by the Glazers which could force him to sell his stake in the event they wished to sell.

“There are all sorts of scenarios. We might get hit by an asteroid,” he said.

“There have been lots of opportunities for people to come in and buy Manchester United in the last 12 months – why is it all going to change?”

Asked if taking full control was his ultimate aim, Ratcliffe said: “The ultimate aim is just for Manchester United to play really good football. It’s not about what am I going to do in five years’ time?”

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