It’s over…

Published: Monday, 16 October 2023

Well there we have it. It’s over. Not quite for Man Utd, but Sheikh Jassim’s bid for the club. Over to you Jim. And good luck.

I said ‘not quite’ for Utd. They’ll continue to win the odd cup - as they’ve been doing since Fergie’s retirement and if there’s Ratcliffe investment, a decade or so from now they might even win the title again, perhaps the youth team... But the era when they won everything, all the time, is very definitely over. The chance to replicate what City now do went the moment Sheikh Jassim walked away.

I had a fun joust with a mate today who’s Utd to the core. It’s always good sport winding him up, but I love the passion he has for his team - and the fact that he sees the world through red tinted glasses. Sadly those same glasses won’t allow him to view the reality of what’s happened at Old Trafford. And there’s the problem.

I understand totally the ambitions of Utd fans. But they’ve got to be aligned with a dose of reality now.

I say again - it’s over. The years when Utd dominated domestically and occasionally won the big one (not enough) are long since gone. And what must hurt more is having to live in the shadow of one of the richest and most successful clubs in the world. The noisy neighbours of course. The team that Fergie said would never be favourites to win a derby ‘in my lifetime’. Nowadays it’s every time.

I’m quite certain that the Sheikh would’ve put Utd back on their perch. He has the resource to rebuild a crumbling stadium, wipe out Utd’s debt (his was a cash bid), start buying the best players in the world again, invest in the city. Jim Ratcliffe can’t and won’t do any of that.

He’s overpaying for a share of the club. Wildly overpaying – the fact there’s literally no-one else willing to buy tells you that, even “Qatar”. And what exactly is he buying? Whilst the Glazers still own a majority share the answer is ‘not very much’.

His purchase of a 25% stake apparently remains entirely dependent on outlining a ‘genuine path to majority control’. Again - good luck with that. If I were a Utd fan I’d be praying for negotiations to break down so that Sheikh Jassim’s ambitions could be tested. My belief is that he was totally committed in his desire to buy the club - just not at the £9-10b the Glazers reportedly want. That bracket is nonsense. It’s plucked from thin air.

Utd’s base valuation is very objective – their market capitalisation is £3.2b. Add a premium on top of that as MU is a top and rare asset, but you still don’t get anywhere near their Barbie-land valuation. But maybe in Jim, they’ve found their Ken.

I’ve always backed an owners’ right to run a club as they see fit. Whilst Utd were winning everything during the first eight years of the Glazers ownership - five PL titles - one UCL (two final defeats) three League Cups and one Super Cup nobody was complaining too much.

They’ve spent close on a billion pounds (I know, how was that funded?) since Fergie left the club - but on what? Generally ageing superstars that no other team wanted.

Hojland apart - and the jury is still out - which of our other top sides would buy anything that they’ve got now? Let’s go down a rung - would Brighton take anything that they’ve got? No When ETH is finally out of a job - where does he go? Brighton wouldn’t take him. Back to Holland is my best guess.

So there you have it. Wherever you look Utd aren’t good enough. But the wasted spending isn’t the fault of the Glazers. What is - is the lack of investment in infrastructure. And now- pure greed.

If Jim Ratcliffe is convinced by the Glazers offer of a path to full ownership, and he buys in for £1.25b, where does that money go? Again. My best guess is into the Glazers pockets. Jim will have to find as much again to spend on players, but will the very best want to join Utd when not much else has changed? And what about the stadium? Maybe they’ll get a new rowing machine in the training centre.

The deal that’s currently on the table is a mess. It does nothing to make Utd competitive again. It’s all so very sad. I’ve always said that we need a competitive Utd but I just don’t see it if this deal gets done.

It was the late Franny Lee that once said ‘if there was a cup for cock-ups City would win it every season’. He was right. They did. Not now though.

City now win everything with frightening regularity - like Utd once did. The only cup that they no longer win is now in Utd’s possession. The entire “strategic review of Manchester United” we’ve all endured for the past year is a world class cock-up – the last year has cost the Club so much more.