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Is Sir Jim Ratcliffe Gambling On Manchester United’s Future?

Is Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s takeover at Manchester United the stuff of the Theatre of Dreams? Or more of a Danse Macabre?

I don’t know the exact amount of money that is bet on Manchester United each season. But I willing to bet that the likes of bet365 Sport take a good chunk of their football betting revenue from wagers on the Red Devils.

But it is not just fans of United that have been wagering on the clubs’ future. The owners, the Glazer Family, have done likewise, seeking and finally approving investment in the club by selling a quarter of it to INEOS Chairman and the UK’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

With the Glazer family reportedly seeking to sell the club, for the right price, Sir Jim’s move seems to be a precedent for him to buy the club outright eventually.

In fact, the INEOS boss has been described by sources as being in a hurry to improve things at the club he supports, and in doing so leave a lasting legacy for United fans.

However, as with every football takeover, it is a gamble and not one without significant risk, even to a man with a purported £20 billion+ in personal wealth.

What are the issues facing Sir Jim as he bids to return United to the top of the English and European game?

Let’s begin with a key part of the club’s infrastructure and perhaps one of the most contentious.

Old Trafford To Become New Trafford?

One big aspect of Sir Jim’s plan for Manchester United seems to be a major redevelopment of Old Trafford, which could even result in the stadium being rebuilt and replaced by a new “Wembley of the North”.

Part of the vision for a New Old Trafford, if that makes sense, would be to simply expand, or improve the current stadium, but there are a number of potential options open to the owner, one of which is to knock down the current stadium and build it on some of the land purchased close to Old Trafford.

United have bought this land up over the years and so it would be feasible to move the stadium away from the Railway line which runs behind the Sir Bobby Charlton stand, and which has been the major issue when it comes to major redevelopment at Old Trafford.

Stadium. Generative Ai

A new stadium is postulated to have a capacity of 90,000 to rival Wembley and would ensure that Manchester United remain the biggest sporting club in England, if not the world. It would allow a further 15,690 fans into each home game compared to now, which could easily generate an additional £500,000 to £1m for the club each matchday.

What is not known, is how much such an undertaking would cost. Estimates put the redevelopment at around £2 billion. So, even for a billionaire like Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the redevelopment of Old Trafford would not come cheaply. Especially as a minority shareholder.

Management Infrastructure

While Erik Ten Hag’s position as Manchester United manager remains assured for now, Sir Jim has already made some changes behind the scenes.

Recruitment and operations have been criticised in recent years and current director of transfer policy John Murtough, will see his role downgraded at the club in the new shake-up.

Former Team GB cycling team manager Sir Dave Brailsford has come in as a member of the Manchester United board and he is set to undertake a massive review of the recruitment team and policy as a matter of urgency.

United have already announced former Manchester City CEO Omar Berrada will take over a similar role at Old Trafford in the summer. Berrada and Brailsford are believed to be ready to appoint a new director of football, with a number of names already in contention.

That includes Dougie Freedman of Crystal Palace, ex-Liverpool Sporting Director Julian Ward and Paul Mitchell, the ex-head of recruitment at Spurs are amongst a number of options being considered by the top brass at Old Trafford.

It is thought that Berrada, Brailsford and the new Director of Football will eventually decide the future of Erik Ten Hag and his coaching team, with much dependent on how Manchester United finish the current season.

Significant Team Investment?

Manchester United have never been shy of spending big money on players, but recently that has come to backfire on them in a significant number of deals. Furthermore, there is a significant proportion of the Manchester United squad now pushing into their 30s or beyond, and several of these players do seem to be past their best.

They include:

  • Tom Heaton (GK) – 37
  • Raphael Varane (DC) – 30
  • Harry Maguire (DC) – 30
  • Jonny Evans (DC) – 36
  • Casemiro (MC) – 31
  • Christian Eriksen (MC) – 31

Furthermore, a number of other players are seemingly out of form, or out of favour at the club with the likes of Antony, Scott McTominay Anthony Martial and Jaden Sancho being strongly linked with a move away from the club in recent times.

Mason Greenwood is also out on loan at Getafe and is reportedly not going to play for United again.

United do have a core of talented younger and more experienced players to work with though. Most notably:

  • Andre Onana – (GK) – 27
  • Altay Bayindir – (GK) – 25
  • Lisandro Martinez (DC) – 26
  • Willy Kambwala (DC) – 19
  • Diogo Dalot (DR) – 24
  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka (DR) – 26
  • Kobbie Mainoo (MC) – 18
  • Bruno Fernandes (AMC) – 29
  • Mason Mount (MC) – 25
  • Marcus Rashford (AC) – 26
  • Alejandro Garnacho (AML) – 19
  • Rasmus Hojlund (AC) – 21

However, it is abundantly clear that significant investment is going to be needed in the Manchester United playing squad if they are to make a serious challenge for the top honours domestically and in Europe and that will not come cheaply.

Furthermore, Manchester United also have to ensure that they do not fall foul of Financial Fair Play rules, which could hinder their chances of landing a number of top stars for big transfer fees. Certainly at least until Old Trafford has been redeveloped and has a much-increased capacity.

Make Your Own Bets On Manchester United At Bet365 Sport

Bet365 Sport offers a wide range of bets on Manchester United over the course of the season, from odds on them winning big competitions, such as the Premier League, FA Cup and European competitions, down to their chances of finishing in the top four.

Certainly, United will be desperate to get back into the Champions League this season. The question is whether hey are going to do so. Or whether Sir Jim may have to put his hand in his pocket at the end of the season to try and get the players in to try and achieve that short-term goal.

Just like bettors at bet365 Sport, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is taking a gamble on his beloved Manchester United. The question is, will he return the club to greatness, or will it prove to be money down the drain if they cannot recapture their former glory?

Ian John

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