Why Sir Jim Ratcliffe tried to buy Chelsea before Man Utd

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe addresses failed 2022 bid for Chelsea
  • Billionaire attempted to buy Blues from Roman Abramovich
  • He has been a Man Utd fan since early childhood
Sir Jim Ratcliffe offered £4.25bn for Chelsea in 2022
Sir Jim Ratcliffe offered £4.25bn for Chelsea in 2022 / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has revealed that opportunity is what led him to launch a bid for Chelsea prior to eventually investing in Manchester United, the club he supported growing up.

Ractliffe grew up near Oldham for the first ten years of his life until his family moved across the country to East Yorkshire in the early 1960s. But that first decade was still long enough to permanently solidify the now 71-year-old billionaire's footballing affinity.

Having officially now become a shareholder and with control of football operations, Ratcliffe called it a "boyhood dream" coming true. Yet things could easily have been so different given that he had rivalled Todd Boehly for stewardship of Chelsea in the summer of 2022.

Ratcliffe has justified his interest in buying Chelsea, for whom a takeover was mandatory at the time following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Roman Abramovich's relationship with the regime, because it gave him a chance to fulfil his ambition of owning a Premier League club.

"We have a collection of quite interesting sports clubs, Formula 1, America’s Cup, cycling etc. but we’ve always recognised that the biggest sport in the world is football and the Premier League is the biggest league in the world," he explained, via The Athletic.

Todd Boehly
Ratcliffe tried to beat Todd Boehly's consortium to Chelsea deal / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

"So we've always had an interest in having a Premier League club - but they don't come up very often, and at the time we had no inkling that Manchester United might ever be sold. So that's how we finished up in that Chelsea equation."

Ratcliffe was a late bidder in the Chelsea takeover process. His offer matched the £4.25bn package put forward by the Boehly consortium but was submitted after the bidding deadline. It was then, in August 2022, that he first expressed interest in buying Manchester United, although at that time there was still no real sign that the Glazer family was interested in selling. It all changed within a matter of weeks, though with the November 2022 'strategic alternatives' statement opening the door.

Now that he has a seat at the table at Old Trafford, Ratcliffe appears to be glad that the Chelsea deal never came off: "I would say this but there is no comparison between Chelsea and Manchester United. The scale of Manchester United is incomparable to any of the London clubs."