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Sir Jim Ratcliffe says his involvement with Manchester United is the most exciting thing he has done and expects his partial takeover to be ratified by mid-February.

The 71-year-old billionaire was at Old Trafford on Sunday to attend his first United match since agreeing to buy a 25 per cent stake in the Premier League outfit.

And ahead of kick-off for the visit of Tottenham, Ratcliffe spoke publicly for the first time since the Christmas Eve announcement of his deal.

“It’s the first match for me since we sort of got there, if you like,” he said, introducing himself to members of the media in the press conference room.

“I am very excited to be here, but I can’t answer any questions, really, because that would be inappropriate, honestly.

“It’s a big match… we normally do well against Spurs!”

Asked if his deal to come in at United is as exciting as anything he has ever done, Ratcliffe smiled and said: “Correct. Yes.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Old Trafford
Sir Jim Ratcliffe (left) with Sir Alex Ferguson (right) in the stands at Old Trafford for Manchester United’s match with Tottenham (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I have done a few exciting things, but this caps it all. There’s no question about that.”

Ratcliffe said this was his first match at Old Trafford for two to three years, mentioning Paul Scholes and Eric Cantona when asked about his favourite players.

Born in the Greater Manchester town of Failsworth, Ratcliffe thinks he was around 10 when he first watched United, where his INEOS group are preparing to take responsibility for footballing operations.

Ratcliffe plans to come “quite a lot” moving forwards and expects ratification to arrive in the next month.

“I think it’s three or four weeks,” he said. “Early Feb.”

A colleague interjected saying “early to mid Feb”, before Ratcliffe added with a laugh “we hope they don’t find anything dodgy in our CV!”

Ratcliffe was unable to answer questions on specifics until the deal gets the final sign off, saying it would not be appropriate to say what his first impressions were.

The INEOS chief also said he “can’t comment” when asked about his influence on the January transfer window and declined to answer what the biggest challenge was.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag
It remains to be seen if Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will have his squad strengthened in January (Martin Rickett/PA)

It was a brief conversation that is expected to be followed by a more in-depth media appearance when ratification is approved.

Quizzed on how long he has had ambitions to be involved, he said: “A few years.

“It’s taken a few turns, as you know, along the road, but these things quite often do. It all turned out well in the end.”