Manchester United and Sir Jim Ratcliffe are hopeful of announcing their partnership during the international break, a source has told ESPN.
British billionaire Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of chemicals company INEOS, is set to acquire a 25% stake in the club for around £1.25bn.
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Sources told ESPN that the deal would also give Ratcliffe some influence on the football side of the business. INEOS director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford is expected to be heavily involved.
It has been almost a year since United’s American owners, the Glazer family, announced they were considering selling the club.
Ratcliffe and Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani have both submitted bids for a full takeover worth around £5bn.
But neither offer was accepted by Glazer and instead they are set to agree a deal with Ratcliffe that would allow them to keep a majority shareholding.
Supporters are organizing a protest ahead of Saturday’s Premier League match against Luton Town at Old Trafford to protest the Glazers’ decision to stay in charge.
Sources told ESPN that Ratcliffe is hopeful of increasing his stake to eventually become a majority owner but the 71-year-old is clear on the timing of acquiring more shares. The Glazers have been a deeply unpopular owner with fans since their massive leveraged buy-out in 2005.
A source has told ESPN that once Ratcliffe becomes a United shareholder, he is ready to invest more funds in improving both Old Trafford and the club’s Carrington training ground.
INEOS creditors have been assured that Ratcliffe’s involvement with United will come from his personal assets rather than company funds.