Manchester United have announced INEOS Group chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe will buy a 25 per cent stake in the club.
Here the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key questions following the £236million deal.
What does it mean for the club’s ownership?
In the short-term, not much, given the Glazer family are still majority shareholders.
However, under the agreement, INEOS has accepted a request by the board to be delegated responsibility “for the management of the club’s football operations”.
This is set to include “all aspects” of both the men’s and women’s teams as well as the academies. Just how Ratcliffe and the INEOS Group will implement those on a day-to-day basis remains to be seen – which has already been highlighted by the Manchester United Supporters Trust.
So when will the INEOS Group start their new job?
Manchester United reaches agreement for Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, to acquire up to a 25% shareholding in the Company.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 24, 2023
Detailed and complicated discussions have been going on for some time – but the announcement on Christmas Eve does not mean everything has been signed off.
United’s statement noted the deal was still “subject to customary regulatory approvals” which is expected to take some time.
The process must be ratified by the Premier League and also an official announcement made via the New York Stock Exchange.
Given the Christmas and New Year holidays, there have been suggestions it could take up to six weeks for changes to the club’s ownership to be established with all the relevant parties – which would come right in the middle of a key January transfer window.
What changes are their likely to be in the boardroom?
Lifelong United supporter Ratcliffe will bring with him plenty of sports administration experience – from owning French Ligue 1 side Nice, the INEOS Grenadiers elite cycling team, the Britannia sailing team fronted by Sir Ben Ainslie as well as a holding in Formula One with Mercedes.
Along with structural change, it is expected Ratcliffe will look to bring in some fresh personnel.
Sir Dave Brailsford, former performance director for British Cycling and current director of sport for INEOS, is reported to be in line for a key role at Old Trafford – as is INEOS Sport chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc, who has also held key positions with Juventus and Paris St. Germain.
Manchester United’s director of football, currently John Murtough, is another role which has been suggested could be under review once the INEOS deal is formally approved.
So what about manager Erik ten Hag?
United suffered a 13th defeat of a so-far uninspiring campaign when beaten 2-0 at West Ham on Saturday – the most they have lost before Christmas since 1931.
Despite being well off the pace in the Premier League and failing to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League, Dutchman ten Hag insists he can turn things around again.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has vowed to return United to “the very top of English, European and world football” – which means results will either have to improve or INEOS could well implement some of that “delegated responsibility” in the dugout.
What else will be on the ‘to-do’ list?
As well as refurbishing the debt-laden club’s infrastructure under the agreement, INEOS will inject £158m (USD 200m) to upgrade Old Trafford.
The on-going renovations are much needed – with reports of roof leaks and a feeling of out-dated concourses which leaves United behind many of their Premier League rivals (not to mention over at the Etihad Stadium).
Ratcliffe’s pledge to see United competing with the best on the pitch again is also not likely to come cheap in the transfer market or be a quick fix – and neither will be unifying the fanbase once again on the back of what MUST feel has been “18 years of debt, decay and mismanagement”.