Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to launch a bid for Manchester United following confirmation from the Glazer family that the club is on the market for either a full or partial takeover.
Ratcliffe, commonly referred to as Britain’s richest man, had previously confirmed his interest in buying the club he has supported since childhood during the summer.
The petrochemicals billionaire, who founded INEOS and already owns OGC Nice in France, had been part of the bidding process for Chelsea but lost out to Todd Boehly’s consortium after submitting an offer after the deadline set by broker Raine Group had passed.
After a spokesperson for Ratcliffe in August confirmed ‘Jim is definitely a potential buyer’ should the club be for sale, the man himself later backed away and publicly conceded in October that the Glazers ‘don’t want to sell’.
Ratcliffe was also linked with a takeover of Liverpool more recently but INEOS appeared to rule themselves out of any move into Premier League football, declaring instead that the group’s focus remains on developing Nice into a domestic rival for Paris Saint-Germain in France.
However, that situation appears to have changed since the Glazer statement on Tuesday night.
The Telegraph has now reported that United is the only club that would get Ratcliffe to change his mind. Now that offers are being welcomed by the Glazers, having seemingly been shut down in summer, the 70-year-old originally from Oldham will prepare a bid.
His offer for Chelsea came in at £4.25bn but it is said that Glazers are potentially seeking in excess of £5bn for United and that Ratcliffe is ‘wary’ of overpaying.
It is thought that INEOS have already completed due diligence on the club, although have a rule that any investment ought to pay off or increase ‘significantly’ in value after three years. Ratcliffe, despite being a United fan, is expected to prioritise ‘business logic before passion’, the Telegraph adds.
Aside from Nice, INEOS have a growing sporting portfolio, which includes investment into F1, cycling and Swiss football club Lausanne. There are no rules to prevent them from owning multiple football clubs, although United would not be allowed to face another INEOS-owned team in Europe should a potential takeover from Ratcliffe proceed and be completed.