Incoming minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has told Manchester United supporter groups he is there to help take the club back to the top rather than make money.
After a frustrating, prolonged 13-month process, it was announced on Christmas Eve that the Ineos chairman had agreed to buy a 25 per cent stake from the Glazer family.
Ratcliffe receives control of football operations at the Premier League club under the terms of a deal that he told reporters he expects to be approved by mid-February.
The 71-year-old watched Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford, where he returned the following day to engage with fan representatives and local leaders.
Ratcliffe met members of the club’s Fans’ Advisory Board and leaders of the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), before holding a video meeting with the larger Fans’ Forum.
“His main message was that everything at United needs to be ruthlessly focused on creating winning teams on the field – something we are sure all fans will agree on,” MUST said.
“He also expressed the view that he views our club as a ‘community asset’ and stressed that his purpose in taking a share in United is not to make money.
“We were able to set out to Sir Jim what we think the key priorities are – a clear plan to get back to the top, putting in place a football structure with the right people in the right roles; an investment plan in both the teams and the stadium; and building a genuine and strong partnership with fans that supports success.
“We hope today’s discussion is the start of an ongoing dialogue both with Sir Jim and his team.
“We all know the journey back for our club is not a short one – and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. But most fans agree that the signals Ineos has sent in the last few weeks are encouraging.”
The meeting with MUST lasted more than an hour, with Ratcliffe joined by Sir Dave Brailsford, the director of sport at Ineos, Jean Claude Blanc, Ineos Sport chief executive, and senior United officials.
Certain topics were off the table as the deal awaits approval, but MUST “felt he was as open as he could be within those rules”.
The trust’s chair JD Deitch posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was a good meeting and that Ratcliffe’s team “get it” but “proof will be action, not words”.
A fan representative at one of the meetings told the PA news agency that Ineos made it clear the immediate priority is fixing things on the field during “really positive discussions”.
There was a sense that Ratcliffe’s team will be “able to hit the ground running” once the deal is ratified, with player trading pinpointed by Ineos as an area requiring improvement.
“I think the impression of everybody in all the meetings was it was actually amazing and unprecedented for us at Manchester United that the owner of the club spent that much time,” the fan representative said.
“More fan engagement in one day than the Glazers have done in 20 years. That’s just a fact.
“I’m sure it’s not accidental. It’s a very clear signal of a change in how the club will be and I get the sense that they are not waiting for the details of the deal to go through.
“I get the sense that the work has started already.”
After speaking to fan representatives, Ratcliffe and his team met a range of local leaders to discuss United’s role in the community and potential development of Old Trafford.
Among those in attendance were senior representatives from Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, including mayor Andy Burnham.