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Full transcript of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s thoughts on Manchester United, Old Trafford, Sheikh Jassim, and Mason Greenwood


On Tuesday evening, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS completed their purchase of a minority stake in Manchester United, as the British billionaire acquired a 27.7 per cent stake in the Premier League club in a deal worth over $1.3bn.

On Wednesday, Ratcliffe spoke to the written media for the first time about his decision to take a minority investment, for which he has received control of the club’s sporting operation. Inside a boardroom at INEOS’ offices in Knightsbridge, London, Ratcliffe sat at the head of the table and took questions from 13 assembled journalists from the British and international media.

Along the way, Ratcliffe answered every question, including: His ambitions to restore Manchester United to the summit of English and European football, knocking the “enemy” Liverpool and Manchester City “off their perch” How INEOS will make a fresh decision this summer on the future of Mason Greenwood Insight into the year-long battle to secure a stake in Manchester United, “odd affair” of Sheikh Jassim’s rival bid and how INEOS previously thought they had won the battle nine months ago, opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate at the Monaco Grand Prix in May Why Manchester United have targeted Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth and the club’s battle to prise him away His ambitions to create a ‘Wembley of the North’ as Manchester United seeks to redevelop Old Trafford or build a new stadium, including his argument for the British state to support funding plans for the project Has the last decade been quite painful? Sir Jim Ratcliffe: “It’s been a complete misery really in the last 11 years and it’s just frustrating if you’re a supporter during that period of time. That’s football isn’t it? It has its ups and its downs. I remember pre-(Sir Alex) Ferguson it wasn’t great for quite some time — for a more extended period of time, actually, for about 25 years. Is that your incentive for investing: to transform Manchester United into what it used to be? “Fundamentally, you want to see your club being where it should be. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. It should be playing the best football in the world and it hasn’t been doing that for 10 or 11 years. So it’s certainly related to the decision (to invest).” Do you have a time frame for achieving success? “It’s not a light switch. it’s not one of these things that change overnight. We have to be careful we don’t rush at it, you don’t want to run to the wrong solution rather than walk to the correct solution. We have two issues: one is the longer term, getting Manchester United to where we would like to get it but there’s also the shorter term of getting the most out of the club as it stands today. “We would like to see the Champions League for next season if we can. The key challenge here is that, longer term, we need to do things well and properly — and thoroughly. So it’s not an overnight change. It’s going to take two or three (seasons). You have to ask the fans for some patience. I know the world these days is about instant gratification but that’s not the case with football, really. Look at Pep Guardiola at Man City; it takes time to build a squad. “What you need are the foundations to be in a good place for Manchester United to be successful, which means you need the right organisational structure. It means not having a coach reporting to the chief executive, for instance. “Then we need to populate all the key roles with people who are best in class, 10 out of 10s, and there’s clearly a lot of interest in these roles in Manchester United because it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world but also it’s one of the biggest challenges — because you’re taking it from a difficult place to hopefully where it should be at the top of the pyramid. “Thirdly, you need to create this environment which is driven and competitive. It is going to be intense at times, but equally it needs to have warmth and friendliness and be a supportive structure because the two things marry together well. They probably haven’t had that environment for the last 10 years. If we get those three things right, then you have to believe the results will follow.” “If you look at a club like Manchester City, you see they’ve got a very sensible structure. They’ve got a really driven competitive environment but there’s a bit of warmth to it. There are two clubs not very far from us who have been successful and have got some of those things right, and United don’t.” Ratcliffe and his INEOS company have spent £1.3billion to buy a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United (Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images) How is a minority stake going to work? What do you get to drive? “We have a really good relationship with Joel and Avram (Glazer), who are the only two of the siblings that we’ve got to know and have met. And there’s a fair amount of trust between those two parties. And they obviously are very comfortable with us running the sports side of the club. “This is going to be a very sports-led club, it’s all going to be about performance on the pitch. I’m still a significant shareholder even in respect of all the other things in the club. “We’re obviously going to be on the ground, whereas the Glazer family are a fair way away. So I don’t see an issue in us being able to influence the club in all the right ways going forward, to be honest. “I don’t think we’re going to be taking the legal agreements out of the bottom drawer. I just hope they gather dust and we never see them. Which it should be. It should be on the basis of a relationship. “As long as we’re doing the right things, then I’m certain that relationship is going to go very well. “One of the things I’d add is that the transaction was quite challenging, as you know. We met all sorts of obstacles on the way, a lot of them in relation to hedge funds, and SEC, American (regulations) and a few with the Qataris and all those sorts of things. It obviously it was a rocky road for quite an extended period of time. “And the Glazers really, from the beginning, preferred ourselves to the Qatari option — which, in a way, for them was a much easier option because they could just sell the whole thing and they would have walked away and financially done quite well. “But they stuck with us through the whole process. Our offer was a bit more complicated and that sort of adversity, that rocky road for a year, has forged a relationship between ourselves and the other shareholders. “We’ve all got to know each other. You get to know people better in adversity than when the whole thing is going swimmingly.” GO DEEPER INEOS and Ratcliffe finally have the keys to Old Trafford. What does it mean for Man United? Did you always have confidence that you would end up here? Were there moments when you thought about walking away? “How long have you got? Time and time again. I remember at the Monaco Grand Prix, which was in May, we opened a bottle of very expensive champagne and all celebrated. That was in May — but that was a false dawn and we went through several more false dawns after that. “We had a few surprises on the way. Not at the Glazers’ making. We just kept bumping into problems, particularly with the non-executives on the board.”How would you rate the scale of this challenge? You are up against clubs linked to nation-states, financial fair play, it has not been a great season, etc…“I don’t know about the biggest thing in my career. But certainly, the biggest challenge in sport that we’ve undertaken. It’s enormous — and the club is enormous. The tentacles reach around the world. Everywhere I go in the world, it’s Manchester United. It affects an awful lot of people on the planet, and getting it right is not easy. “We’ve got to get so many aspects of that club right. And the right people doing the right thing at the right time and doing it well. It’s a very…



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