Sir Jim Ratcliffe won't pay 'stupid' price to buy Manchester United

British billionaire held talks with Glazer family last week during a visit to Old Trafford and the club's Carrington training complex

Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe is pictured at Old Trafford in Manchester, Britain, March 17, 2023. Reuters
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Billionaire businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe says he will not pay a "stupid" price to acquire Manchester United.

The Ineos chief executive confirmed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he and his representatives held talks with with United owners the Glazers last week during a visit to Old Trafford and the club's Carrington training complex.

Ratcliffe is one of two interested parties to have publicly announced their bids to Raine, the merchant bank brought in to assist the club in assessing offers.

The other is Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose delegation visited United the day before Ratcliffe’s trip.

Elliott Investment Management has also reportedly made it through to the second stage of the process, although the firm is said to be offering funding rather than a takeover.

“How do you decide the price of a painting? How do you decide the price of a house? It’s not related to how much it cost to build or how much it cost to paint," Ratcliffe, 70, told the Journal.

“What you don’t want to do is pay stupid prices for things because then you regret it subsequently.”

It is believed that the Glazers value the club at £5 billion, though no financial details have been released about bids submitted so far. The Americans have been massively unpopular with United fans since their leveraged £790m takeover in 2005. There have been several large-scale protests against their ownership.

United were debt-free before the takeover but the Glazers have reportedly taken £1 billion out of the club to service their debt, as well as paying themselves huge dividends.

The Glazer family announced in November they were willing to listen to offers for the club, which they bought in 2005.

Manchester-born billionaire Ratcliffe, a childhood United fan, already owns or has significant investment in a string of sports teams including French football club Nice.

Ratcliffe made a last-minute bid to buy Chelsea last year after they were put on the market by Roman Abramovich, who was forced to sell the club due to his alleged ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

An American consortium headed by Todd Boehly won the bid to take over the West London club, paying £2.5bn, and vowing to commit £1.75bn in further investment.

United beat Fulham to reach FA Cup semis

United sit third in the Premier League table but are a whopping 19 points behind leaders Arsenal and 11 behind crosstown rivals Manchester City, though they have games in hand over both.

On Sunday the secured a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win over nine-man Fulham at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils are also in the hunt to win the Europa League, where they face Sevilla in a two-legged quarter-final tie next month.

Last month, United won their first trophy in almost six years when they beat Newcastle United 2-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley.

It was their first trophy under new manager Erik ten Hag.

Updated: March 21, 2023, 6:40 AM