The Glazers won't care about Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Man Utd ties if they decide to sell up

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Football has truly almost eaten itself when a Monaco-based petrochemical billionaire’s interest in buying the global brand that is Manchester United is somehow viewed as romantic but it is as close as the upper echelons of the Premier League are going to get from now on.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the local boy from Failsworth made good, the northerner with United at his heart, has broken cover over his desire to rescue the club from the hands of the Glazers and brought hope to countless disgruntled followers in the process.

Despite the superyacht, he is one of them – a United fan who, as he approaches his 70th birthday, wants to use part of his £20bn fortune to help bring back the glory days at the faded Theatre of Dreams. He is a reimagined Jack Walker at Blackburn all over again – only with more noughts involved.

Ratcliffe, unlike the ludicrous Michael Knighton who resurfaced last week, has enough of them to turn the Glazers’ heads. The problem is Manchester United are not officially for sale. Their distant owners across the Atlantic, still merrily milking the cash cow, have merely opened the door to someone to take a minority stake. Billionaire industrialists used to getting their own way are not minded to play second fiddle to anyone – particularly when they are as toxic as the Glazers – so the path ahead is not as straightforward for Ratcliffe as many would wish.

Even if the Glazers come round to the point of view that owning such a basket case club is not worth the hassle it generates, they would be much more likely to sell the highest bidder rather than the most emotive one. If the Glazers are anything, they are businessmen to the core. Is Ratcliffe even serious? The financial commitment would dwarf the rest of his sporting collection. With United’s stadium and squad to upgrade on top of the purchase price he would probably be looking at northwards of £6bn.

It does not take much for the mood around a white knight owner to change if results do not pick up either. He had a taste of that when Ineos took over the Team Sky cycling team and he was confronted with masked anti-fracking protestors wearing his face with horns added at the Tour de Yorkshire four years ago.

Sport is fickle. The Ineos Grenadiers have fallen short in the Tour de France since his takeover, his yachting team did not make it to the America’s Cup last year and Mercedes have fallen off their plinth since his investment in F1. The football, with Swiss yo-yo club FC Lausanne-Sport, and Nice in France, has been equally up and down.

But he seems to have acquired a taste for it. Ratcliffe failed in his attempt to buy Chelsea for £4.25bn a few months ago but, coming as it did after the deadline, that was always a curious bid. It was as if he did not really want to succeed. United, you feel, with its pull on the heartstrings is different.

The Glazers’ stewardship of United, never a particularly happy one. With their dreadful start of the season, it has now reached a level of corrosiveness which is almost unsustainable. Even before the United support knew how bad the football was going to be there was a significant protest against the Americans at the opening game of the season against Brighton.

The assessment during the week from respected football finance analysts Swiss Ramble that the Glazers have taken £1.1bn out of the club during their 17 years will have done little to cool the temperature.

An even bigger demonstration is planned for Monday evening’s match against Liverpool. It was a fixture which was called off in May on security grounds after United fans broke into Old Trafford and onto the pitch.

The dots do not all join up yet for Ratcliffe but it feels as if a significant moment is approaching for Manchester United.

Joshua stands to lose it all

Whatever he may publicly say pre-fight, Anthony Joshua stands at the crossroads. Avenge his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night and Joshua will be the heavyweight the world is talking about once again.

The super fight with Tyson Fury would surely prove impossible for the supposedly retired Gypsy King to resist. Lose to the Ukrainian again though and the picture would be so different.

Three defeats in the space of five fights would leave him plunging down the division’s pecking order and into a twilight fight zone he has no need to go down. It would be time to seriously consider his future in boxing.

No comparison between Baaeed and Frankel

Is Baaeed as good as Frankel?

The Juddmonte masterclass, which made it ten wins out of ten, elevated William Haggas’s colt to a new level. He more than lived up to his billing as the best active racehorse in the world given how he took to the upgrade to a mile and a quarter.

But Frankel was Frankel, an unstoppable force of nature who brought shock and awe to the same race a decade ago. He stepped away unbeaten in 14 Group One races as the greatest.

However extraordinary Baaeed may have proved himself to be, Frankel remains the greatest.

Irony in Souness’ comment

It was ironic that the Chelsea-Spurs match which prompted Graeme Souness’s puff-chested ‘man’s game’ assessment featured a hair-pulling incident.



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