BRITISH billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United in a dramatic takeover.
And he was hailed as the “perfect” man to take on the crisis club by Red Devils legend Viv Anderson.
Current owners the Glazer family are said to be open to selling a minority stake in the Premier League crisis club, which has a reported total value of £5billion.
Pressure has been mounting for something to give following huge fan protests against the family in recent years.
Supporters marched on Old Trafford with anti-Glazers banners and flares before the season opener against Brighton, with fresh protests set for Monday’s game against Liverpool.
And Ratcliffe, one of the richest people in Britain, would jump at the chance to invest in the Old Trafford side and take “full control”.
Ratcliffe – who is believed to be worth around £11bn – would even want to purchase the entire club outright if the Glazers decided to sell completely and is ready to pay what is required to overhaul the squad and modernise the crumbling 76,000-seater stadium.
A spokesperson said: “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer.
“If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.
“This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent.
“Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”
Former United star Anderson said: “Sir Jim is a Salford boy, no matter how much money he has made. He knows the heart of the club, he knows the hearts of the fans.
“Sir Jim is a Manchester United man, through and through, and he would just be the perfect man to take over the club.
“The Glazers have had their moment — they have had their time at Manchester United.
“I would back Sir Jim to take over and I know the millions of United supporters around the world would do so, too.”
And as a United fan Ratcliffe will be horrified by the way the club have started under Erik ten Hag.
A lack of investment from the top has seen United resort to seeking cut-price deals for the likes of Marko Arnautovic and Adrien Rabiot – both of which have now collapsed.
Not only that, Ten Hag is having to deal with an unhappy Cristiano Ronaldo too.
The Dutchman is open to letting the 37-year-old wantaway star leave the club, while the Glazers want him to stay.
But while money is not being put into the club for transfers and the upkeep of Old Trafford, plenty has been withdrawn from United’s bank balance.
It was revealed earlier in the week that the Glazers have taken an estimated £1.1bn out of the club since first arriving in 2005, with net debt now at a staggering £627million.
Things on the pitch are miserable, too.
United lost their first two games of the season and sit bottom of the league after their worst start under a new manager for 101 years.
SunSport can reveal that American global equity firm Apollo — who two years ago tried to buy famous Las Vegas hotel complex Caesars Palace — are also interested in taking up the Glazers’ offer.
The Daily Mail report exclusive talks are already underway between the US private equity firm and the Glazer family.
Former Manchester United director Michael Knighton is also desperate to oust the current owners.
He has joined with three billionaires to put pressure on the Glazers – and openly called on Ratcliffe’s support in the consortium.
Knighton told ITV: “They’ve damaged the brand. This is not personal against the Glazers, they just always had the wrong model.
“We are not some nation-state sovereign fund who has oil revenue of two billion a day.
“If we can smoke the great Sir Jim out to buy Manchester United my consortium will be punching the air because we’ve achieved what we want to do.”
However, The Times report Ratcliffe “tends to seek full control” of any business he invests in – and therefore may be reluctant to be part of Knighton’s group.
Ratcliffe grew up on a council estate in Failsworth, Manchester and made his money as CEO of Ineos, the multinational chemical company.
His worth is now said to have dropped to around £6bn and he was ranked 27th in the 2022 Sunday Times Rich List.
The 69-year-old, who is a lifelong Red Devils supporter, failed in a last-ditch bid to buy Chelsea earlier in May.
IN-EOS THE KNOW
But he already has experience in sport.
In 2017, he purchased Swiss top-flight football team FC Lausanne-Sport in 2017.
Then two years later he bought Nice in France and also pumped money into cycling’s Team Sky – rebranding them as Team Ineos.
Ineos have also sponsored Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team and the Mercedes F1 team.
The news of Ratcliffe’s interest in United comes hours after fans got excited about Elon Musk’s tweet suggesting he would try and convince the unpopular Glazer family to sell.
But the Tesla chief then let them down again by confirming it was a joke.
However, the interest from Ratcliffe sparked joy among supporters at the prospect of seeing the back of the Glazers.
The Tampa-based family – led by brothers and co-chairman Avram and Joel – have sparked widespread fury for their running of the club since their 2005 takeover.
We will celebrate Sir Jim Ratcliffe buying Manchester United more than we celebrated the treble in ’99
Old Trafford chiefs have refused to comment on Ratcliffe’s interest, but United supporters were falling over themselves on social media to back the bid.
United Faithfuls tweeted: “If Sir Jim Ratcliffe succeeds in buying Manchester United, we will celebrate it more than we celebrated the treble in ’99.”
Manchester United Supporters’ Trust’s Ian Stirling blasted: “With the lack of player investment and the performance of the team, everything has come to a head.
“It has been mismanaged for so long and is going down the pan.
“The manager is probably now wondering what he has got himself into.
“We would welcome anyone with the financial means who puts a serious bid in for United — owners with the same priorities as fans.”