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Man United nears sale of 25% stake to Jim Ratcliffe for $33 a share

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Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe is pictured at Old Trafford in Manchester, Britain, March 17, 2023 REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights  

Manchester United’s (MANU.N) American owners, the Glazer family, are set to finalise a $33 per share deal with Jim Ratcliffe that will see the British billionaire acquire a 25% stake in the English soccer club, Sky News reported on Friday.

The deal, which could be confirmed later on Friday, will bring to an end a year-long sale process. The Glazer family announced last November that they were exploring “strategic alternatives” for the club, including a possible sale and were open to fresh investment.

Ratcliffe’s offer represents a premium of 79.1% to the stock’s Thursday closing price of $18.43, valuing the Old Trafford club at about $5.4 billion excluding debt.

Manchester United’s U.S.-listed shares rose 9.5% to $20.10 in early trading on Friday.

While the deal will not see the back of the Glazers, who are deeply unpopular with the fans of the 20-times English soccer champions, it will result in major changes to the way the club is run.

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Ratcliffe wants to overhaul the club’s football operations. It has underperformed on the pitch since former manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 following a period of unprecedented success for the club.

Ratcliffe has promised sweeping changes. The club announced on Wednesday that Chief Executive Richard Arnold would depart after less than two years in the top job. Other executives are expected to leave after the deal is finalised, sources say.

The deal values Manchester United above Premier League soccer rival Chelsea, which was sold by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich last May for $5.2 billion — including debt and investments — to an investment group led by U.S. billionaire Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

Manchester United generates more revenue and has a larger fan base than its London rival.

Including debt the deal values Manchester United at between $6 billion and $6.5 billion, in line with what Reuters had previously reported.

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Manchester United declined to comment.

Ratcliffe, also the chair of petrochemicals firm Ineos, is expected to take overall control of the club’s player recruitment if the deal is finalised, according to sources.

The Glazer family has faced intense criticism from fans over its handling of this key part of the club’s operations.

The family, which made its fortune in real estate, retail and healthcare and owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bought the team for 790 million pounds in 2005.

The six descendants of American businessman Malcolm Glazer, who died in 2014, currently control 96% of Manchester United’s voting stock.

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The deal structure that Ratcliffe has proposed would allow members of the Glazer family, as well as other shareholders, to partially cash out, one source told Reuters.

It is not clear if Ratcliffe is planning a full takeover in the future or if the Glazers would be open to an outright sale.

Ratcliffe founded Ineos in 1998 and is the chemical group’s chairman and chief executive, with a two-thirds stake. Forbes pegs Ratcliffe’s net worth at $18.7 billion.

The British billionaire is no stranger to the business of sports. Ineos owns French Ligue 1 club Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport, and works with partner club Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One. It is also behind the Grenadiers, one of the world’s most successful cycling teams.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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