Manchester United: Rio Ferdinand defends Glazer family over takeover Saga

Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand believes that the Glazer family were within their rights to reject Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani’s bid to buy the club, but has stressed the need for more direct communication with fans about key decisions.

The Qatari banker withdrew from the Man Utd ownership race earlier this month. He had offered £5bn to take full control of the club and was willing to wipe clean their £1bn debts.

But the Glazers were demanding a figure closer to £10bn to sell the club outright and a deal is close to being finalise with Sir Jim Ratcliffe to purchase a 25% stake in Man Utd instead.

Speaking exclusively to 90min, Ferdinand was asked how he felt about Ratcliffe nearing success in acquiring a minority stake in the club.

“I don’t know, really. We’re still in the dark as to what 25% shareholding looks like, what it means, what is amounts to,” he said.

“I think if you asked every Man Utd fan on the planet did they see this kind of outcome for the club in terms of ownership, they probably would have said no. They were looking to see a complete new ownership coming in the doors, that hasn’t materialised.

“So now the fanbase is sitting there waiting to be explained to where this leaves the club and what’s the direction now, what are the roles and responsibilities, what does that 25% shareholding look like from everyday working at the football club.

“In other businesses when there’s loads of other business surrounding us, they don’t really have to tell us what they’re doing. But I think with a football club it’s very different. Just the communication, the open lines of communication, I think that’s something fanbase have been waiting for, hoping for, looking for.

“I think if Sir Jim Ratcliffe is to go in there, it would be a wise decision of his to take over that area of the football club as well.”

When asked why he thinks the bid from Sheikh Jassim failed, Ferdinand was unsure, though did empathise with the Glazers over their stance to remain at the club in some capacity.

“I don’t know, I think they were quite confident they were going to get it done because there was an awful lot of money offered. But the details of that haven’t been disclosed by the club, which would be interesting to get a little bit of insight into that,” he said.

“It’s obvious it just didn’t work for the Glazers, the guys who are in control. They have a right to decide who’s going to come into the football club and what deal suits them best. This deal suits them best as a family, and some may not like it, but you have to respect it and go, ‘right, OK, what’s the next best case scenario for the football club?’

“As long as the club starts to show growth and future-proof itself – in terms of a stadium and state-of-the-art training ground and those fundamentals and foundations that support a football club as well – you need all that sorted out, because at the moment it’s lacking.”

90min understands that Ratcliffe is planning to implement a new three-person leadership committee at Man Utd consisting of himself, current co-chairman Joel Glazer and cycling legend Sir Dave Brailsford.

Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell has also been tipped to come in and potentially replace football director John Murtough.

Ferdinand was asked whether such a new structure would make much of a difference, but pointed to the need of a culture change more than anything.

“I don’t know, it’s difficult. One role isn’t going to change everything. I think creating the right environment and culture at the football club is huge, but you do need certain roles filled with the right people,” he said.

“Now, I think it’s up to Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his team to take over the sporting side of the club to now determine who’s right and who’s not for the roles.

“That role that’s being talked about – John Murtough’s role at the moment – it’s for the club to decide if he’s done what he’s meant to do, has he got us to a place where now we’re going to start seeing the benefits of it. That’s a big decision to be made, but I’m sure it’s definitely someone going into a new club will look at.”

What we know

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe in line to purchase 25% stake in Man Utd
  • Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani bid £5bn for total control of club but Glazers demanded double that sum
  • Rio Ferdinand has given his thoughts on the takeover saga

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