Prospective Manchester United co-owner Jim Ratcliffe wants to have totally familiarised himself with the club’s operation by the time his partial takeover is ratified by the Premier League. The league’s owners’ and directors’ test can take six to eight weeks to confirm purchases by new buyers, leaving Ratcliffe plenty of time to get to work.
The British businessman, whose bid for 25 per cent of United is being made through his petrochemicals company INEOS, flew to Manchester on Tuesday. His most trusted lieutenant, the former British Cycling coach Dave Brailsford, has attended United’s Premier League matches against Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.
Ratcliffe, 71, has not been present at any United match since news of his impending takeover emerged. However, he is reportedly set to meet with staff this week.
The billionaire will hold his first meeting with under-pressure head coach Erik ten Hag. It remains unclear what position Ratcliffe takes on the club’s struggles this season under the Dutchman.
According to The Times, Ratcliffe is seeking to gain a clear understanding of how the club is run before the Premier League gives his bid the full green light. Upon the conclusion of his part-takeover, Ratcliffe and INEOS colleagues Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc will join the United board alongside members of the Glazer family.
Wide-ranging reports claim that INEOS are set to take control of the club’s sporting department. It means that a decision over the future of Ten Hag and United’s under-performing players will fall at the feet of Ratcliffe over the coming months.
A clause in the legal documents submitted as part of the deal says that INEOS must have any decisions run by them prior to their purchase being completed. Ratcliffe will therefore have a say over any January transfer dealings even if he has not passed the owners’ and directors’ test by the end of the window.
United have lost 13 matches across all competitions this season, including nine in the Premier League. They are seventh after a dismal start to the campaign, which has also seen them crash out of the Champions League.
Ratcliffe may take a dim view on the work done by Ten Hag to compete at the top of the table. Although the Dutchman has credit in the bank after finishing third last term, winning the Carabao Cup, and reaching the FA Cup final.
Ten Hag insists there is mutual will to work with INEOS once their bid is ratified. “I want to work with them (INEOS) and they want to work with me,” the 53-year-old said after United were beaten by Forest at the weekend.
Meanwhile, United are not expected to complete any major business in January, with or without INEOS being at the helm. Loans could be prioritised after a big-spending summer window.