British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe told by Glazers Manchester United not for sale

Speaking at an event on Tuesday, head of Ineos revealed United owners 'don't want to sell' Premier League club

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British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe said he had spoken to Manchester United owners about purchasing the Premier League giants but was told by the Glazers the club was not for sale.

In August a spokesman for Ratcliffe said the head of Ineos petrochemicals "would be interested in talking" to the Glazers "with a view to long-term ownership" of the 20-time English champions, though no official bid was launched.

The Glazers, who bought United in 2005 in a leveraged buyout that saddled the club with a mountains of debt, have long been accused of taking more out financially than they have invested in terms of transfer funds or in redeveloping the club's crumbling Old Trafford ground.

United's net debt had grown by nearly 23% to £515 million ($565.78 million) by September, while on the pitch the team has not won a trophy in more than five years.

"Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family, whom I have met," Ratcliffe told an event hosted by the Financial Times on Tuesday. "I've met Joel and Avram [Glazer] and they are the nicest people, I have to say, they are proper gentlemen.

"They don't want to sell it. It's owned by the six children of the father and they don't want to sell it."

Bloomberg reported in August that the US-based Glazer family would consider selling a minority stake in the Premier League club as pressure mounted on their ownership.

United's Premier League home game against Liverpool in May last year was postponed because of an organised protest by United fans against the owners.

Thousands of supporters marched to Old Trafford in protest before the same fixture this season, in August.

"If it had have been for sale in the summer, yes, we would have probably had a go following on from the Chelsea thing, but we can't sit around hoping that one day Manchester United will become available."

Manchester-born Ratcliffe failed this year in an attempt to buy London club Chelsea, who were ultimately bought by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.

Through Ineos, Ratcliffe already owns or has significant stakes in several sports teams, including French Ligue 1 football club Nice, Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, the former Team Sky cycling franchise, and also sponsors Formula One team Mercedes. He said purchasing a different Premier League team is not out of the question.

"We have an exciting sporting franchise [Nice in France's Ligue 1], but the one thing we don't have is a Premier [League] team," Ratcliffe added.

"The most popular sport in the world is football and it is the sport we were brought up with and it's the one most close to us. We really should have an asset in the sporting franchise."

Everton v Man United ratings

United are currently fifth in the Premier League table following a 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday in which star forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 700th goal in club football.

The Red Devils are next in action on Thursday when they take on Cypriot minnows Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League group phase.

Erik ten Hag's side won the reverse fixture last week 3-2 having trailed 1-0.

Updated: October 12, 2022, 8:35 AM