SIR Jim Ratcliffe insists he is STILL in the running to buy Manchester United.
Britain’s richest man believes the ‘special’ club is like ‘rare art’ and what it has to offer is just what he needs.
But Ratcliffe, who is embroiled in a £6billion battle with Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, knows he cannot force the Glazer family to sell it to him.
Ratcliffe, who has met United’s owners “a couple of times”, explained: “I signed a non-disclosure agreement so I can’t say too much.
“But there is still a process – and we are part of it.”
Despite “third and final” bids being solicited in late April, the Glazers’ chosen dealmaker, US-based Raine Group, allowed both Ratcliffe’s and its petrochemical giant Ineos, as well as Sheikh Jassim, to refine their offers.
Sheikh Jassim wants “100 per cent control”, while Ratcliffe was willing to offer to buy a majority stake that could allow current United co-chairs Joel and Avram Glazer to remain in office for some time.
But more than a month after this point, there is still no decision and there is even a possibility that the Glazers will decide not to sell after all.
Ratcliffe added: “We’ve got a good offer and we’ve met with the Glazers a couple of times.
“We had good talks with them. We would still very much like to do it. And we would do it for the right reasons.
“But in the end it’s their choice, not our choice.”
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When asked why he had been in the running for so long, Ratcliffe replied that the emotional attraction to the club he supported at Bolton as a youngster was a key factor.
He said: “Teams don’t come by very often. There are some special teams that tend to increase in value.
“The value of teams like this is something very special and rare – like art.”
“I don’t think the world of sport will change that much in ten years.
“It’s one of our main interests – getting the boys to the pub and football is one of the two or three topics we ever talk about.”
“It’s football. We’ve worked really hard all our lives. Now that we’ve made some money, you can have fun as long as it makes commercial sense.”
And in a move United fans would like, Ratcliffe also pledged he would not seek to add his company name as part of a stadium sponsorship deal.
He added: “I hadn’t thought of that, but no. That would be heresy. I wouldn’t change it. It’s always Old Trafford.”
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