Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim's Bids Shape Manchester United's Future

In the exciting world of football, the sale of Manchester United, one of the most famous clubs out there, has really caught everyone's attention.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim's Bids Shape Manchester United's Future
© Getty Images/Alex Livesey

In the exciting world of football, the sale of Manchester United, one of the most famous clubs out there, has really caught everyone's attention. Things got even more interesting when two big names stepped into the ring: Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a billionaire from Britain, and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, who's part of the royal family in Qatar.

They both wanted to buy Manchester United, showing just how much everyone wants a piece of the Premier League action. This battle over the club isn't just about who's got the most money; it's about figuring out how much the club is really worth and navigating through the complex world of football finances.

The Bidding War

The fight to take over Manchester United was as thrilling as a game day at Old Trafford. On one side, you had Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the big boss of the petrochemical company INEOS, known for his grit and money smarts.

On the other side stood Sheikh Jassim, a man wrapped in mystery but with deep pockets, heading the Qatar Islamic Bank. Manchester United was on the lookout for a new investor, someone who could bring in some serious cash and share the club's grand vision.

Then came the big news in December: Ratcliffe was going to buy a 25 percent slice of the club. This deal meant the Glazer family would still hang around but own a bit less of the club. They priced the shares at $33 each, making the whole thing worth $1.3 billion.

But getting there wasn't easy. Sheikh Jassim made a strong offer, but it didn't hit the mark according to United's money guides, the Raine Group. Joe Ravitch, one of Raine's top dogs, shared how tough the bargaining was. Despite the Qataris putting forward serious money, they couldn't quite meet what the club believed it was worth.

Sheikh Jassim’s Low Profile and Ravitch's Insight

While all the drama of bidding was going on, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani kept things pretty quiet, unlike Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who was out there making his efforts known.

This made a lot of people wonder about Sheikh Jassim, so much so that Ratcliffe even joked about whether the Sheikh was real, given how low-key he was. But this wasn't about Sheikh Jassim not being interested; he was just playing it cool and taking a careful approach to the whole deal.

Old Trafford© Getty Images/Michael Regan

Joe Ravitch, who got to meet Sheikh Jassim, tells us that the Sheikh was really into the idea of buying Manchester United. He called him a "lovely guy" and "very smart," making it clear that the Sheikh was all in.

Their meeting in New York showed a bidder who was serious and ready to make a move. But even with all that eagerness, Sheikh Jassim and his team's idea of what United was worth didn't match up with what Raine Group thought, who were looking for a number closer to what the NFL's Washington Commanders sold for – around $6.5 billion.

The talks really highlighted how tricky it can be to figure out what a sports team is worth. Ravitch pointed out that Manchester United's worldwide fame was a big reason they were aiming high with their price. The Qataris were willing to go up to $5.75 billion, but that still wasn't enough, and they didn't want to push it too far and risk overpaying.

Ravitch had good things to say about Sheikh Jassim, mentioning he could have been a great owner for United. The choice to go with Ratcliffe in the end was about the money lining up right and perhaps a shared vision for where the club could head next.

Financial Health of Manchester United

Manchester United's latest financial moves and the sale talk have a lot going on beneath the surface, affecting more than just the people directly involved. It's all about making sure the club stays on solid financial ground and follows the rules for financial fair play (FFP).

The club recently shared some numbers that give us a bit of hope. They've managed to lower their pre-tax loss to £5.6 million, a big improvement from a hefty £32.8 million loss they reported before. This turnaround is thanks to an impressive jump in their earnings, hitting a record £225.8 million for the second quarter.

More people watching the games and higher ticket sales, which went up by 59.2 percent and 81 percent, show that the club's business side is doing pretty well. But, they've also had to spend a bit on getting advice and sorting out the deal with Ratcliffe, which eats into their profits.

Sticking to the Premier League's rules on making money and spending it wisely is a big deal for Manchester United. These rules are there to make sure clubs aren't just throwing money around without thinking about the consequences.

Thanks to some clever managing, United's financial situation is looking a lot better, which is crucial if they want to keep competing at the top level without breaking any rules.

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