INEOS Purchase of Manchester United

Arvid Madland Lyngnes


In the dynamic world of football, where the confluence of history, culture, and business shapes the destiny of clubs, the recent developments at Manchester United stand as a testament to the evolving landscape of football club ownership and management. At the heart of these developments is the strategic acquisition by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his multinational chemical company, INEOS, of a significant stake in Manchester United, one of the most celebrated clubs in the history of the sport. This acquisition is not merely a transaction; it represents a watershed moment that signifies a turning point in the club’s trajectory, addressing both its present challenges and aspirations for the future.

Manchester United, with its rich heritage and global fanbase, has found itself at a crossroads in recent years, grappling with the dual challenges of maintaining its competitive edge on the field and evolving its operational strategies off it. The involvement of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS in this context is a strategic maneuver, underscored by a blend of financial investment and visionary leadership, aimed at rekindling the club’s legacy of success and innovation. This introduction sets the stage for a detailed exploration of how this partnership between Manchester United and INEOS, driven by Ratcliffe’s passion for the club and his astute business acumen, heralds a new era of strategic foresight and ambition. It is a story of transformation, signaling a fresh direction for Manchester United, as it seeks to reclaim its position at the pinnacle of football, leveraging the synergies of tradition and modern management philosophies.

History, background for the sale

The Glazers’ decision to sell a part of Manchester United to Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS is layered and multifaceted. It appears that the sale is an acknowledgment of challenges the club has faced in achieving success on the pitch since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. The move to give away control of football operations to Ratcliffe and INEOS, despite them owning only a 25% stake, suggests an admission that previous strategies have not yielded the desired outcomes on the footballing front. This transition allows the Glazers to step back from the immediate scrutiny of football operations, shifting responsibility and potentially blame for on-pitch performances to the new stakeholders (Sokol, 2023).

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013, Manchester United has faced challenges in maintaining their top-tier status. They’ve slipped to fifth in a Premier League performance table over the last nine years, underscoring a significant decline from their championship-winning form under Ferguson. The club has cycled through several managers and spent heavily in the transfer market, yet struggles to achieve consistent success against ‘big six’ opponents and in reclaiming their Premier League dominance (Smith, 2021)

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS group is poised to take control of United’s football operations, signaling a new approach to running the club. This decision aligns with Ratcliffe’s belief in the importance of operational structure and efficiency, both on and off the pitch. His previous acquisition of Nice highlighted his emphasis on the necessity of clubs being run effectively to achieve success. Ratcliffe and INEOS aim to overhaul United’s football operations, focusing on improved analytics, expertise in various departments, and a more agile decision-making process. This suggests a comprehensive strategy to bring about a culture of winning and progressive thinking at Manchester United (Reddy, 2023).

This strategic move also reflects broader trends in football club ownership and management, where operational excellence and a modern, analytical approach to football operations are increasingly seen as vital for success. The Glazers’ decision to sell part of the club may have been influenced by these trends, recognizing the need for fresh perspectives and expertise to reclaim Manchester United’s position at the top of English and European football.

Why would INEOS be interested in purchasing MU

INEOS is a multinational chemicals company founded by Sir Jim Ratcliffe in 1998. It’s one of the world’s largest chemical producers, with extensive operations across various sectors including petrochemicals, oil, gas, and more. INEOS is known for its diverse portfolio of manufacturing sites globally and significant investments in sports, including football clubs, cycling teams, and sailing. The company emphasizes innovation, sustainability, and operational excellence in its wide-ranging industrial endeavors.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a British billionaire businessman, the founder, and CEO of INEOS. Known for his keen interest in sports, he has invested in several sports teams and ventures, including the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team and the INEOS Team UK sailing squad. Ratcliffe’s business acumen and investments extend beyond the chemical industry, reflecting his diverse interests and commitment to supporting sporting excellence.

INEOS’ sports investments are diverse, spanning from football to Formula One, sailing, cycling, rugby, and running. They own OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport, co-own Manchester United, and are a principal partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. INEOS Britannia, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, aims for the America’s Cup, while the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team boasts multiple Grand Tour wins. Their rugby involvement includes a partnership with New Zealand’s teams, and in running, they support the NN Running Team, which includes world-class athletes like Eliud Kipchoge (INEOS,2024)

Details of the transaction

The deal involving Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Manchester United represents a strategic and significant investment in one of football’s most prestigious clubs. Here’s a more detailed look into various facets of this transaction:

  • Stake Acquired
    Sir Jim Ratcliffe, through his company INEOS, completed the acquisition of a 27.7% stake in Manchester United. This comprises 25% of both Class A and Class B shares, making it a balanced investment in the club’s voting and non-voting shares (INEOS 2024) (Skysports, 2024)
  • Financial Details
    The shares were acquired at a price of $33.00 per share. Ratcliffe’s investment included an initial $200 million, with an additional $100 million promised by the end of 2024. This investment is significant, not just for its size but for its intention, signaling deep commitment and a long-term vision for the club. Importantly, this deal was structured without the imposition of any debt on Manchester United, ensuring financial stability and a solid foundation for future investments (INEOS, 2023) (INEOS, 2024).
  • Control and Operations
    A key aspect of the deal is the transfer of control over football operations to INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe. This move is expected to bring a fresh perspective and new strategies to the club’s management, leveraging Ratcliffe’s and INEOS’ extensive experience in sports management and performance enhancement across their other sporting ventures. Ratcliffe’s lifelong support of Manchester United and his roots in the local community add a personal dimension to this professional investment (INEOS, 23) (Sky sports, 24).
  • Future Investments
    Beyond the purchase of shares, Ratcliffe has committed to investing in the club’s infrastructure, specifically mentioning Old Trafford. The initial and subsequent investments aim at upgrading facilities, enhancing fan experiences, and ensuring that Manchester United’s physical assets match its global stature. This focus on infrastructure underscores a holistic approach to club development, considering both its sporting success and the sustainability of its assets (INEOS, 24).
  • Implications for Manchester United
    The deal is widely viewed as a positive development for Manchester United. It promises not only financial investment but also a strategic shift towards leveraging global expertise in sports science, management, and operations from INEOS’ wider sporting portfolio. Ratcliffe’s vision for the club includes returning Manchester United to the top of English, European, and world football, with an emphasis on both short-term improvements and long-term sustainability (INEOS, 23) (INEOS, 24) (Sky sports, 24).
  • Regulatory Approvals and Process
    The completion of the deal followed the receipt of necessary approvals from the Football Association and the Premier League. The transaction’s closing was subject to these approvals, along with other customary regulatory processes, ensuring that all aspects of the acquisition were thoroughly vetted and compliant with relevant sports and financial regulations (INEOS, 24).
  • Summary of the purchase
    Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s acquisition of a significant stake in Manchester United marks a transformative chapter in the club’s storied history. It reflects a blend of financial muscle, strategic vision, and a personal connection to the club’s heritage. As Manchester United embraces this new era, the focus will be on how these investments translate into success on the pitch, enhanced fan experiences, and a reasserted dominance in global football.


The acquisition of a substantial stake in Manchester United by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company INEOS heralds a pivotal moment in the club’s illustrious history. This move, characterized by both its financial depth and strategic foresight, signifies a conscious shift towards addressing the club’s recent challenges and revitalizing its storied legacy. The sale by the Glazers to Ratcliffe, acknowledging the need for a refreshed operational approach in the wake of the club’s struggles post-Sir Alex Ferguson, is a clear nod towards leveraging external expertise to reclaim past glories.

The club’s declining on-field performance and failure to consistently compete at the highest levels since 2013 underline the necessity of this strategic pivot. Ratcliffe’s commitment, underscored by a significant financial investment that avoids burdening the club with debt, reflects not only a business decision but a personal investment in the future of Manchester United. The emphasis on operational excellence, analytics, and a modern, agile approach to management aligns with broader trends in football where such factors are increasingly recognized as vital for success.

This transition also represents a broader trend in football club ownership, where a blend of passionate stewardship and professional management is seen as key to achieving and sustaining success. Ratcliffe’s diverse experience in sports management, through INEOS’ involvement in various sports ventures, provides a rich foundation for fostering a winning culture at Manchester United. His plans for infrastructure improvements and fan experience enhancements further demonstrate a holistic vision for the club’s future.

In essence, the partnership between Manchester United and INEOS, spearheaded by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is more than a mere change in partial ownership. It is a strategic realignment aimed at addressing immediate challenges and laying the groundwork for long-term success. By marrying financial stability with a forward-thinking approach to football operations, Manchester United embarks on a renewed quest for dominance in English and European football. This moment marks the beginning of a new chapter, one that promises to honor the club’s rich heritage while steering it towards a future filled with potential and success.


Sokol, K. (2023, December 26). Manchester United: Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal with the Glazers explained and what it means for the Premier League club. Skysports. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

Reddy, M. (2023, November 24). Sir Jim Ratcliffe: Inside the INEOS chief’s takeover at Manchester United, including Erik ten Hag. Skysports. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

Smith, A. (2021, November 23). Man Utd success measured since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford. Skysports. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

INEOS, I. (2024, February 20). SPORTS. INEOS. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

INEOS, I. (2024, February 20). Manchester United plc and Trawlers Ltd Announce the Successful Completion of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Minority Investment. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

Skysports, S. (2024, February 21). Sir Jim Ratcliffe completes deal to buy Manchester United minority stake. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

INEOS, I. (2024, December 24). Manchester United plc reaches agreement for Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, to acquire up to a 25% shareholding in the Company. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from
INEOS, I. (2024, February 20). Manchester United plc and Trawlers Ltd Announce the Successful Completion of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Minority Investment. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

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