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Sir Jim Ratcliffe meets with Manchester United fans for the first time

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has met with the Manchester United Supporter's Trust (MUST) for the first time since his bid for a 25% stake in the club was accepted by the Glazer family at Christmas. The Glazers, who have owned Manchester United since 2005, have rarely engaged with fans over the past 18 years so the meeting yesterday is already being heralded as a step in the right direction by Man Utd supporters.

Although the deal won't formally go through for another month or so, Ratcliffe and his INEOS team are already making their presence felt at Old Trafford. As part of the deal, INEOS will have total control over the football side of the club and their Director of Sport, Sir Dave Brailsford, has attended several matches already.

Ratcliffe, meanwhile, has been given a tour of Old Trafford and United's training complex, Carrington, in recent weeks and attended his first match as part-owner on Sunday as United played out a 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford.

A day after the match with Tottenham, Ratcliffe met with MUST alongside Brailsford and the man that many insiders are tipping to become the club's next CEO, Jean-Claude Blanc. MUST released a statement following the meeting explaining that the meeting was used to discuss INEOS' plans for turning Manchester United into a football powerhouse once again.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Sir Jim Ratcliffe met with fans to discuss his plans for the club. – Photo by Icon Sport

MUST pleased with “refreshing” meeting

Upon announcing that the meeting had taken place, MUST said that their members had found the meeting “refreshing” and that they were pleased that Ratcliffe was willing to have the conversation at such an early stage. While he has pledged to invest $300m into the club, he can't do that or anything else for that matter until the deal is ratified by the Premier League.

In a statement, the supporter's trust said Ratcliffe was “as open as he could be”. They added:

“Ratcliffe's main message was that everything at United needs to be ruthlessly focussed on creating winning teams on the field – something we are sure all fans will agree on. 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. Continuing that dialogue is the number one priority for MUST in the months and years ahead.”

The next steps for INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe

For INEOS, it's all about the waiting game now until the deal is officially ratified. In the meantime, it is believed that all football decisions the club make have to go through them which means they could become involved in the January transfer window with United reportedly on the lookout for a temporary striker to support Rasmus Hojlund.

According to Fabrizio Romano, INEOS have already had to intervene with one transfer. Hannibal Mejri has joined Sevilla on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy. Initially, United hadn't included a buy-back clause in the deal but INEOS rectified this at the last minute to ensure United don't lose out if the Tunisian midfielder becomes a superstar in La Liga.

Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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