British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his petrochemical company Ineos have confirmed their bid for “majority ownership” of Manchester United.

The Glazer family are considering selling the club and a “soft deadline” of Friday had been set for proposals.

Ineos said it wants to make the club a “four star for a modern, progressive, fan-centric approach to ownership”.

In a statement confirming its bid for the 20-time English champions, the company added: “We would see our role as long-term guardians of Manchester United on behalf of the fans and the wider community.

“We are ambitious and very competitive and would like to invest in Manchester United to make them the number one club in the world again.”

It added: “We also recognize that football governance in this country is at a crossroads. We would like to help lead this next chapter, deepening the culture of English football by making the club a beacon for a modern, progressive, fan-centric approach. to ownership.

“We want a Manchester United rooted in its proud history and roots in the North West of England, putting Manchester back to Manchester United and clearly focused on winning the Champions League.”

The Ineos group, owned by 70-year-old British billionaire Ratcliffe, has a history of investing in sports and owns French Ligue 1 club Nice and Swiss Super League club Lausanne.

Its sports portfolio also includes the high-profile sailing team Ineos Britannia, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, which is aiming to win the 2024 America’s Cup for Great Britain.

Ineos also has a five-year partnership with Formula 1 team Mercedes and took over British cycling team Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky) in 2019.

Ratcliffe made a failed £4.25bn late bid to buy Chelsea last year when Russian owner Roman Abramovich put the London club up for sale.

Ratcliffe – born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester – is a boyhood United fan and one of Britain’s richest men. His personal fortune is estimated to be somewhere between £11 billion (Forbes) and £6 billion (Sunday Times), making him the 27th richest person in the UK on the Sunday Times Rich List.external link

His petrochemical company Ineos makes around £50 billion in annual sales and employs more than 26,000 people in 29 countries.

After his failure to acquire Chelsea, Ratcliffe said he would have tried to buy United but after meeting brothers Joel and Avram Glazer, he stated that they did not want to sell – a stance that has now changed.

At least two bids for United from the United States are expected, while there have also been suggestions of interest from Saudi Arabia.

This means there could be up to five parties trying to negotiate a full sale, while others want to make a smaller investment in exchange for a partial stake in the club.

The Glazer family have owned United since 2005 and in November confirmed they wanted to “explore strategic options” for the club.

Sheikh Jassim’s Qatar Consortium has pledged to “return the club to its former glory“.

It added: “The offer will be fully debt-free through Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will seek to invest in the football team, the training centre, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports.

“The vision of the bid is for Manchester United to be known for its football excellence and to be regarded as the biggest football club in the world.”

Sheikh Jassim, described as a lifelong Manchester United fan, is the chairman of Qatari bank QIB and the son of a former prime minister of Qatar.

Concerns have been raised over a bid from Qatar by human rights group Fair Square and Manchester United’s LGBTQ+ fan group the Rainbow Devils.

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