Sir Jim Ratcliffe leaves Man Utd staff 'bemused' by non-negotiable demand

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe led an all-staff call during recent visit of Man Utd facilities
  • All employees told that flexible work-from-home arrangements are over
  • New co-owner not prepared to bend over insistence on office-based working
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made his expectations of Man Utd staff abundantly clear
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made his expectations of Man Utd staff abundantly clear / BERTRAND GUAY/GettyImages

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reported to have left some Manchester United staff "bemused" by his demand that a flexible work-from-home policy should end in order to boost productivity.

The new co-owner has taken over sporting control since purchasing a minority stake from the Glazer family in recent months, but has also been sure to get stuck in on more general issues as his latest club-wide declaration mainly affects non-football staff.

The Guardian reports that part of Ratcliffe's recent tour of facilities included an all-staff call. It was then that he informed employees, of which there are around 1,000, that hybrid working from home arrangements are no longer acceptable. Such a model has been in place since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to stay at home, but Ratcliffe cited a 20% drop in email traffic when another of his companies previously trialled working from home on Fridays.

Ratcliffe is a believer that having all staff on-site full-time – United also operate office space in London as well as Manchester – is better for productivity and seemingly gave little choice but to accept his new instructions: "If you don't like it, please seek ­alternative employment."

Avram Glazer, Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Ratcliffe is making his presence felt at Man Utd / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Not everyone agreed. The Guardian adds that some staff were bemused by the orders and consider it "shortsighted". As it stands, there isn't enough room for all staff to be present on-site, with some offices at Old Trafford repurposed in recent times for hospitality space. On top of that, not all employees actually live in commutable distance to Manchester or London, while some staff have flexible working in the terms of their contract – presumably applicable to those hired since 2020.

Ratcliffe had also sent an email to all staff last week in the wake of this visit to Old Trafford and Carrington. He praised those who made him "feel very welcome" but was also particularly critical of a "high degree of untidiness". He singled out the club's IT department as a "disgrace", as well as the Under-18 and Under-21 dressing rooms. The billionaire urged all staff to up the standards in a direct comparison with INEOS, the multinational firm he founded in 1998.

"These standards would not come close to what we would expect at INEOS and we are a chemical company. Manchester United is an elite sporting organisation," Ratcliffe said.