Ratcliffe wants Man Utd to vie for Premier League title in three years

Feb 22, 2024 4:36 am | News

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

Sir Jim Ratcliffe says he wants Manchester United to fight for Premier League titles within three years, as he laid out his vision to rebuild one of the world’s most popular football teams.

Speaking to journalists at Ineos’s headquarters in west London on Wednesday, the British chemicals billionaire called for “patience” from fans and warned that transforming the club would take time. However, he acknowledged that supporters had already endured more than a decade of “complete misery”.

“It’s not a light switch, it’s not one of these things that changes overnight,” said Ratcliffe, who completed a deal to buy 27 per cent of the club on Tuesday. “The fans would run out of patience if it was a 10-year plan, but it’s certainly a three-year plan to get there.”

The 71-year-old has set his sights on the winning the Premier League and the Champions League, and knocking local rivals Liverpool and Manchester City “off their perch”. To achieve those goals, the top priority in the short-term was improving recruitment both on and off the pitch, he said.

United has been one of football’s biggest spenders over the past decade, but results have not matched the outlay on players. The team is currently sixth in the Premier League, five points off the Champions League qualification spots.

An aerial view of Old Trafford Stadium
Old Trafford, United’s home since 1910, has been overtaken by modern venues © Getty Images

“There’s not much I can do about what’s happened in the past”, he said. “So our thinking is all about how we become first-in-class in recruitment going forward, which means you need the right people.”

Ratcliffe, who controls Ineos, is set to invest a further $100mn in United by the end of the year, which would take his total investment above $1.6bn. His deal valued the club at $6.3bn including debt, a record in football. The six Glazer siblings still own a majority stake in the club.

“I don’t think I’ll ever lose money,” Ratcliffe said when asked about the valuation. “I don’t believe it’s going to devalue. I don’t believe I’ve been financially stupid.”

United’s record valuation belies a club that has fallen behind in the race for trophies. The 20-time English champions have failed to win the Premier League since 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager.

Ratcliffe, who has taken control of the club’s football operations as part of the deal with the Glazers, also highlighted the need to upgrade the club’s creaking infrastructure.

He said it would cost roughly £1bn to refurbish Old Trafford but cautioned that it wasn’t the “perfect” solution because of the challenge of modifying an antiquated stadium. Old Trafford, United’s home since 1910, has been overtaken by modern venues such as Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground in north London.

Ratcliffe, who is a Monaco resident, said there was a wider conversation to be had with the community and public sector about a “more ambitious project on the site” that could help “regenerate” the area in a manner similar to how the 2012 Olympics boosted east London.

United has failed to make a profit since before the pandemic, which battered its balance sheet and hastened the need to raise funds. The Glazers said they would be open to selling the club in part or in full in November 2022, but a lengthy strategic review, complicated by concerns for minority shareholders, meant it dragged on for well over a year.

United’s New York-listed shares were trading at $15.91 on Wednesday, down about 8 per cent, and well below a high of more than $26 this time last year.

feed from www.ft.com