English FA approve Jim Ratcliffe's purchase of 25% stake in Manchester United

One of the British billionaire's first moves looks set to be an approach to Newcastle United for their sporting director Dan Ashworth

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is close to completing a deal to buy a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United. PA
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The English Football Association has approved Sir Jim Ratcliffe's purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Premier League club Manchester United.

British billionaire Ratcliffe's investment, which will give him control of football operations at the 20-time English champions, received the backing of the Premier League on Monday evening.

And now the FA have now also given the green light to the bid, which means Ratcliffe edges closer to sealing his place in the Old Trafford boardroom.

Within an amended tender offer statement published on Wednesday afternoon came confirmation that the national governing body's approval "has already been obtained".

The green light from the FA is one of the last remaining steps but the deal cannot be completed until the tender offer for Class A shares is finalised.

The period in which holders of Class A shares can tender them for sale has been extended from February 14 until 23.59pm on February 16.

"The Premier League now awaits confirmation of the transaction's completion," the league said in a statement, while confirming Ratcliffe has also signed its owners' charter.

Ratcliffe, who is the owner of petrochemicals giant Ineos, has paid $1.3 billion for “up to 25 per cent” of the club and will invest a further $300 million for “future investment into Old Trafford,” United have said.

He will provide $200 million on completion of the deal and a further $100 million by the end of 2024. That additional investment will eventually take Ratcliffe’s stake up to 29 per cent. The Glazer family will have a 49 per cent stake under the deal.

Reports suggest one Ratcliffe's first moves will be an official approach to Newcastle United for their sporting director Dan Ashworth.

The Magpies are reluctant to lose the man they poached from Brighton in 2022, who has helped head the club's successful recruitment drive that has seen the likes of goalkeeper Nick Pope, attacker Alexander Isak and winger Anthony Gordon arrive on Tyneside and make a big impact.

When asked about the link in November, Ashworth told The Athletic: "I'm really happy, it's a brilliant city, club and project. I'm thoroughly engaged in throwing myself into all of those things and really enjoying the challenge."

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But former head of British Cycling Dave Brailsford – who has been brought in to oversee a performance review at Old Trafford – is close to the 52-year-old and Newcastle have long been braced for an approach.

Should Manchester United make their move, it is understood they would have to pay a multi-million-pound compensation settlement. Ashworth would also have to sit out a lengthy period of gardening leave, as he did when he joined Newcastle from Brighton.

Meanwhile, a Uefa report has claimed that United’s squad at the end of the 2022/23 season was the most expensively assembled on record.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective €1.42 billion in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of €1.33 billion recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022/23 included £82 million Brazilian winger Antony, £80 million England defender Harry Maguire, £73 million signing Jadon Sancho and the £60 million Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount (£73 million), Andre Onana (£50 million) and Rasmus Hojlund (£72 million) are not counted within the figures.

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending €88 million euros less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before.

Barcelona and Manchester City had large increases in player wages spending – €158 million and €68 million, respectively.

Updated: February 14, 2024, 2:57 PM