Pundit Gary Neville slams ‘awful’ timing of Manchester United deal with Jim Ratcliffe

Ex-skipper Gary Neville is critical of the timing of the Manchester United share sale announcement.

Ex-skipper Gary Neville is critical of the timing of the Manchester United share sale announcement. Photo: Getty

Gary Neville has described Manchester United’s year a “disgrace to the end” after Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s acquisition of a 25 per cent stake in the club was announced on Christmas Eve.

Neville wished INEOS Group chairman Ratcliffe, 71, a childhood United fan who was born in nearby Failsworth, “all the very best” in attempting to return the club to former glories.

But former United captain Neville questioned the timing of the announcement, which came at 4pm on Christmas Eve, writing on X: “Manchester United 2023 has been a disgrace to the end.

“The timing of this is truly awful and no functioning organisation would even think about it.

“Anyway all the very best to Jim Ratcliffe and I hope he can somehow work out a way to get the club right again and back to being something respectable on and off the pitch.”

Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25 per cent stake comes after the club’s United States-based owners, the Glazer family, revealed their intention to undertake a strategic review of their options, including the possibility of selling up.

United has suffered a poor season so far, losing more matches before Christmas than in any season since 1930 and has not scored for four games – its worst run for 30 years.

Erik ten Hag’s side has dropped to eighth in the Premier League, eight points from fourth-placed Tottenham, and finished bottom of its Champions League group.

Ratcliffe has agreed to inject about £236 million ($441 million) into the club and INEOS will take over the management of United’s football operations.

But Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has questioned how the relationship between the Glazer family and the INEOS Group will work, calling on the club’s owners to clarify the situation.

MUST also said fans would be left with “mixed feelings” after Ratcliffe’s investment left the Glazers still in overall charge at Old Trafford.

“During 18 years of debt, decay and mismanagement, Manchester United fans have loudly and consistently called for change at our club,” a MUST statement read.

“When the so-called Strategic Review was announced nearly a year ago, it finally appeared that the sale of the club was on the horizon, potentially bringing the new investment and new direction MUFC so clearly needs.

“Against that backdrop, fans have very mixed feelings today. We welcome the investment from a boyhood red, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS company, but many will wish his ownership stake was greater than the initially rumoured 25 per cent.

“We note the statements that he and his team will control sporting activities, yet puzzle how any organisation can put its very core business in the hands of a minority shareholder, and how that meaningfully works in practice.”

It is understood that Premier League approval for Ratcliffe’s investment could take between four and six weeks.

Ratcliffe’s leadership skills have received a glowing endorsement from INEOS Britannia’s Sir Ben Ainslie, who feels the sailing team – which is owned by the British billionaire – could not be in better hands.

“We couldn’t ask for better backers, supporters,” four-time Olympic champion Ainslie told BBC Sport.

“They’re very hands on, Jim, John (Reece), Andy (Currie), the three main partners of INEOS. As CEO of the team I report to them on a monthly, bi-monthly basis, and they’re a big part of every key decision that we make.

“My experience of Jim is he is a very switched-on guy. He understands sport. Football, we all know, it’s pretty dynamic, the results coming and going and the potential for lots of personnel changes …

“My experience of Jim is if he picks a team, picks the right people, he will back them all the way and I would expect to see that if that is the case with Man United.”


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