Sir Jim Ratcliffe has revealed that while he has told the Glazers family of his intention to buy Manchester United, he has been told the club is not for sale.
He had previously targeted both Manchester United and Chelsea as possible takeover targets and the topic was a talking point during Tuesday night’s discussion with the Financial Times.
The Glazer family has been the majority shareholder of Manchester United since 2005 and Joel and Avram Glazer are co-chairs of the club.
In the interview, Ratcliffe said: “I met up with Joel and Avram and they are the nicest people and they don’t want to sell it. If it was for sale in the summer, yes, we probably would have tried it, after the Chelsea thing.
“But we cannot sit around and hope that one day Manchester United will become available.”
He revealed his favorite moment as a lifelong Manchester United fan was being there when they made their late comeback to win the Champions League in 1999.
He also spoke about his many other involvements in the world of sport. Ratcliffe added, “We have a sports franchise that’s a really interesting franchise. We own a third of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, which was the most successful in recent years – stolen last year. We have a great cycling team. We’re pretty close with Eliud Kipchoge. And arguably the most challenging of all is Ben Ainslie with his America’s Cup challenge which is going quite well at the moment. That’s a few years away.’
Ratcliffe also revealed he had met Khaldoon Mubarak, the owner of Manchester City, under the guise of chemical investments – but then revealed: “After 2 hours and 15 minutes we got to the subject of chemicals. You can probably imagine what we talked about.’
However, he noted that football is something he wants to increase his involvement in. The owner and co-founder of INEOS also controls Ligue 1 clubs Nice in France’s top flight and Lausanne in Switzerland, both of which he mentioned in the interview.
The INEOS Sport brand is run by Ratcliffe with co-owners Andy Currie and John Reece.
“The most popular sport in the world is football, it’s the sport that John, Andy and I grew up with and it’s the sport that’s closest to us. We should have an edge in a sports franchise.
When asked if it should be a ‘premiership’ club, Ratcliffe replied: ‘A premier club. Nice has a very interesting history, it’s an old club, it’s a very beautiful place, it’s an attractive place for footballers. It’s a Californian climate down there.
“If I look at what Mubarak did with Manchester City or what the Qataris did with PSG, then we can see what we can do with Nice.”
At the beginning of the conversation, the 69-year-old entrepreneur said he had no intention of entering any other business area. Ratcliffe said: “I can’t take any more. And we have sports, we try to be clear about how to run a football club.
He further elaborated on his involvements with Ligue 1 Nice and Swiss Challenge League team Lausanne.
“In the first two or three years, we were pretty far away from Nice. We’ve been getting more involved since this summer. We’re very focused on what we can do in relation to Nice,” he told the FT’s Jonathan Guthrie.
»Lausanne was our first excursion. It’s a nice place. The Swiss league is the Swiss league, it’s not on the same level as the French league or the British. But we have a decent team.’
He also revealed ties to German union workers by speaking about football.