Sir Jim Ratcliffe interview: Old Trafford redevelopment, Mason Greenwood plan and is Sheikh Jassim real?

New Manchester United’s co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has delved into several key subjects in his maiden interview since INEOS acquired a 25% stake in the club, addressing key concerns amongst fans.

After an arduous 15-month-long takeover saga, Ratcliffe’s minority investment was completed after receiving Premier League and Football Association (FA) approval.

As part of that 25% stake, Ratcliffe and INEOS will take control of sporting operations at the home of the 13-time Premier League champions. 

The Sporting News provides full quotes from the hot topics discussed by the boyhood United fan and now part-owner of the club in his interview with BBC Sport’s The Sports Desk podcast

MORE: What is Sir Jim’s background? Where does his money come from?

Ratcliffe on Mason Greenwood: Will forward return to Man United?

Mason Greenwood joined Getafe on a season-long loan in August after 19 months without kicking a ball for United.

The 22-year-old was charged by Greater Manchester police with attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault back in October 2022.

In February of 2023, the charges were dropped when the Crown Prosecution Service stated there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction” after key witnesses withdrew their cooperation from the investigation. Greenwood denied all charges.

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The Athletic reported that United were originally going to reintroduce Greenwood to the squad but, after backlash online by supporters and from some staff inside the club, they reversed their decision and he left for Spain weeks later. 

Ratcliffe was asked whether INEOS would be making their own decision on Greenwood in the summer when the forward is set to return from his loan move.

Ratcliffe said: “Yes, absolutely. We will make a decision and we will justify it. He’s a Manchester United footballer.

“So the answer is yes, we have to make decisions. It’s quite clear we have to make a decision. There is no decision that’s been made.

“He’s on loan obviously but he’s not the only one. We’ve got one or two footballers that we have to deal with and we have to make a decision on so we will do that.

“The process will be: understand the facts not the hype and then try and come to fair decision on the basis of values, which is basically is he a good guy or not, and answer could he play sincerely for Manchester United well and would we be comfortable with it, and would the fans be comfortable with it.”

Greenwood has a contract with United until 2025 leaving this summer the only real option for the club to receive a transfer fee for him.

According to talkSPORT, Barcelona sent scouts to monitor Greenwood’s performances during his loan spell at Getafe. It has also been reported that Atletico Madrid are keeping tabs on the forward.

Ratcliffe on Old Trafford: Will he build a new stadium?

Ratcliffe discussed two potential options when it comes to the redevelopment of United’s historic Old Trafford.

He champions the idea of a “stadium of the north,” advocating for a venue capable of hosting prestigious events such as England matches and the FA Cup final, but recognises that may require public funding and therefore it may not be feasible. 

Upgrading and modernising the stadium would still cost hundreds of millions but not to the same scale as a brand new state-of-the-art stadium. The way Ratcliffe discussed the idea of a mega stadium makes you think he may prefer that option. 

It’s a vision that splits opinion among the United fan base as loyal match-goers appear to favour keeping Old Trafford as it is but modernising the appearance and improving the match-day experience.

On the other hand, other fans have seen Tottenham Hotspur’s superb new stadium and fancy something similar. 

When reflecting on the unfair concentration of such facilities in the south of England, Ratcliffe said: “The people in the north pay their taxes like the people in the south pay their taxes. But where’s the national stadium for football? It’s in the south.

“People in the north pay their taxes and there is an argument you could think about a more ambitious project in the north which would be fitting for England, for the Champions League final or FA Cup final and acted as a catalyst to regenerate southern Manchester.”

Ratcliffe on Sheikh Jassim’s failed takeover: “Does he exist?”

One final topic was the failed Qatari-led bid to buy 100% of the club. Sheikh Jassim had submitted his bid in February of 2023 but withdrew from the process in October. 

Ratcliffe attended discussions held at Old Trafford but it’s understood Jassim never spoke to Joel Glazer or Avram Glazer. 

The idea of the Glazer family remaining as owners in any capacity disgusts many United fans and, while the INEOS founder was unsuccessful in removing them entirely, Ratcliffe struck a deal to theoretically kickstart their expulsion. 

“Still nobody’s ever seen him, actually. The Glazers never met him. He never… I’m not sure he exists! I think it’s extraordinary, really. But I agree with that, it was confounding.”

Ratcliffe then confirmed that the Qataris never showed proof of funds when trying to purchase the club. “No, they didn’t, no. They were obviously there and there was a whole host of people on the team in the squad, their squad.”

He added: “I didn’t ever meet them. But it was it was a very odd affair.”

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