How Manchester United’s New Billionaire Leader Plans to Revitalize the Club

Manchester United was once at the top of its game—but the soccer club hasn’t won an English championship in more than a decade. Its new billionaire minority owner is hoping to change that.

Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman of the petrochemicals company Ineos, bought a 25 percent stake in Man United for $1.5 billion—a deal that was ratified on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. Now he’s outlining his vision for the team, which includes plans to trounce old rivals and perhaps build a new stadium. But he’s making sure fans understand that Manchester United’s rebuild isn’t going to happen quickly.

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“It’s not a light switch,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s not one of these things that changes overnight.”

The businessman joining the Man United family was a process that took months, with Ratcliffe himself describing it as “rocky.” The club’s majority owners are the Florida-based Glazer family, who are largely unpopular with fans, so they may be happy to see some new blood running the team. Ratcliffe will be taking over day-to-day soccer operations, and on Wednesday he began to share with the public what that may entail.

First and foremost, Man United will focus on soccer above all. Over the years, the Glazers have made the team profitable commercially but with less-than-stellar results on the pitch. While the club was dominant in the early 2000s, it’s since been overtaken in the Premier League by the nearby Manchester City and Liverpool.

“There is nothing I would like better than to knock both of them from their perch,” Ratcliffe said, while acknowledging that both teams could teach them some lessons. “They have been in a good place for a while, and there are things we can learn from both of them.”

While winning may take some time, given limits to how much Man United can play around with its player roster, Ratcliffe is hopeful that his leadership will eventually result in dominance. And he’s also planning to revamp the team’s home stadium, either through a $1.3 billion retrofit of Old Trafford or by putting up a completely new arena that would serve all of North England.

As a minority owner, it’s not completely clear how Ratcliffe’s ideas will fare in the organization, especially when it comes to big decisions. But the billionaire seems to be optimistic about working with the Glazers to restore Man United to its former glory.

“As long as we’re doing the right things, then I’m certain that relationship is going to go very well,” he said.

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