Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s potential investment in Manchester United has raised eyebrows in the football community. Ahead of the upcoming January transfer window, Ratcliffe aims to finalise his investment in the prestigious club, according to Rob Dawson of ESPN.
The proposed £1.35 billion [$1.643bn] deal by Ratcliffe and his INEOS consortium is to acquire a 25% stake in Manchester United, thereby gaining authority over the club’s sporting decisions.
However, ESPN has highlighted that Ratcliffe is well aware of the fans’ potential displeasure. The deal might pave the way for the Glazer family, who aren’t particularly popular among the club’s faithful, to retain their position. Many believe that a successful January transfer window might soothe the wary fans, and this is thought to be key for Ratcliffe to gain back the fan’s trust.
Yet, challenges arise in the form of financial fair play (FFP) regulations. These restrictions might hamper the club’s ability to engage in significant dealings, especially since there’s no current intent to clear the club’s substantial debt. As of March, the reported debt of the club was nearing a staggering £1bn. Allocating funds to repay this debt could, theoretically, enlarge the transfer kitty. However, after spending £178 million on new players before this season, the finances seem stretched.
In the summer, Manchester United made several signings – Rasmus Højlund, Mason Mount, André Onana, Altay Bayindir, Sergio Reguilón, Sofyan Amrabat, and Jonny Evans. It’s worth noting that the arrivals of Bayindir, Reguilón, and Amrabat were finalised only after Dean Henderson’s transfer to Crystal Palace.
Additionally, there’s anticipation surrounding potential protests from fans in the club’s next home fixture against FC Copenhagen in the Champions League slated for Oct. 24. The fans’ dissatisfaction stems from Ratcliffe’s proposed minority stake, hinting at the Glazers’ continued dominance.
The prospect of fans targeting high-profile matches, especially those broadcast globally, is a rising concern. This comes in the wake of an incident in May 2021 when the match against Liverpool was postponed because of an anti-Glazer demonstration, which resulted in some supporters breaching the Old Trafford grounds.
Another significant fixture, the Manchester derby against Premier League champions Manchester City, is lined up at Old Trafford on Oct. 29, and it remains to be seen how fans will react then.