Disgruntled Manchester United fans have learned why Sir Jim Ratcliffe has chosen to bid an eye-watering £4.25billion to buy Chelsea instead of their club, who Britain’s richest man grew up supporting.
The Lancashire-born tycoon, who also owns French outfit Nice and is the chairman of chemical behemoths INEOS, has invested in multiple sports down the years, but notably never dabbled with acquiring the Red Devils. Instead, Ratcliffe has submitted an eye-watering offer to purchase Premier League rivals Chelsea.
His decision has infuriated members of the Old Trafford faithful, who continued to protest against their owners – the Glazer family – during their 1-1 draw with the Blues on Thursday. But Ratcliffe’s comments on the state of United explain his hesitancy to get involved in their affairs. In late 2019, the 69-year-old was asked by the Times if he would be interested in buying the Red Devils, to which he replied: “Not at the moment, no. They are in quite a big pickle as a business.
“(Ineos) never wants to be the dumb money in town, never, never. They haven’t got the manager selection right, haven’t bought well. They have been the dumb money, which you see with players like Fred. We won’t look elsewhere until we have had a good run here (at Nice). We need to find out how to be successful before you ever want to write a big cheque. It’s quite difficult.”
Ratcliffe added that United have “lost the plot” since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as boss nine years ago. “United have spent an immense amount since Ferguson left and been poor, to put it mildly. Shockingly poor, to be honest,” he went on. “We have a different approach here to be moderately intelligent about it.
“Try to do it more grass roots, trying to locate young talent. Some clubs seem to have an ability to do that, Southampton, Lille. United have done it really poorly. They have lost the plot there somehow.”
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Given Ratcliffe’s view on how the Glazers have run his boyhood club, it is no wonder why he has turned his focus to West London. That is despite previously ruling himself out the running when Roman Abramovich announced his intention to sell the Blues almost two months ago. A statement issued on Friday read: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, has made a formal bid for Chelsea FC, for £4.25bn.
“£2.5bn is committed to the Charitable Trust to support victims of the war, with £1.75bn committed to investment directly into the club over the next 10 years. This is a British bid, for a British club. We believe that a club is bigger than its owners who are temporary custodians of a great tradition.
“With responsibility to the fans and the community. That is why we are committing to spending £1.75bn over 10 years that will be for the direct benefit of the club. We will invest in Stamford Bridge to make it a world-class stadium, befitting of Chelsea FC. This will be organic and on-going so that we will not move away from the home of Chelsea and risk losing the support of loyal fans.
“We will continue to invest in the team to ensure we have a first-class squad of the world’s greatest players, coaches and support staff, in the men’s and women’s games. And we hope to continue to invest in the academy to provide opportunity for talented youngsters to develop into first-class players.
“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club. We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game — not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses.
“The club is rooted in its community and its fans. And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea FC for that reason. No further comment will be made from Sir Jim or INEOS during the bidding process.”