Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reached out to fans after agreeing to buy a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United, telling them he takes his responsibility to put the club back on top of world football “very seriously” but also calling for patience.
United announced on Christmas Eve that Ratcliffe, the chairman of INEOS, had finalised a £1.25billion deal for a share of the Premier League outfit and will invest more than £236m to refurbish the debt-laden club’s infrastructure.
INEOS will also take over the management of United’s football operations.
Ratcliffe has now written to the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, the Fans’ Forum and the Fans’ Advisory Board insisting INEOS “are in for the long-term” but advising that success on the pitch “will require time and patience”.
“I wanted to write to you at this time given the critical role of the fans to the future of Manchester United as we recognise our responsibility as custodians of the club on your behalf,” Ratcliffe wrote, echoing various sentiments expressed in a Christmas Eve statement outlining his ambitions for the club.
“I believe we can bring sporting success on the pitch to complement the undoubted commercial success that the club has enjoyed.
“It will require time and patience alongside rigour and the highest level of professional management.
“You are ambitious for Manchester United and so are we. There are no guarantees in sport, and change can inevitably take time but we are in it for the long term and together we want to help take Manchester United back to where the club belongs, at the very top of English, European and world football.
“I take that responsibility very seriously.
“Please note that, as with any deal, it is subject to the usual regulatory sign-off process and therefore we do not expect to speak publicly about club matters until after the deal is completed.”
It is understood that Premier League approval for Ratcliffe’s investment could take between four and six weeks.
The 71-year-old Ratcliffe, a childhood United fan who was born in nearby Failsworth, agreed his stake in the club following an ownership saga that lasted 13 months.
The club’s United States-based owners, the Glazer family, revealed their intention to undertake a strategic review of their options, including the possibility of selling up, in November 2022.
Ratcliffe and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim were both in the running to oversee a buyout of the club until October.
Sheikh Jassim withdrew his bid for full control of the club on October 14, with Ratcliffe’s focus shifting to taking a significant minority stake.