Man Utd owner Ratcliffe makes big ‘mistake’ as Old Trafford ‘dictatorship’ continues

Will Ford
Man Utd co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Sir Jim Ratcliffe completed a deal to buy 27.7 per cent of the club in February.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made the “mistake” of comparing Manchester United to Ineos as the British billionaire has been accused of running the club as a “dictatorship”.

The Ineos owner took charge of football operations at United in February when he bought a 27.7 per cent stake in the club and a strategic review has led to a number of changes behind the scenes.

All staff memos and no working from home

One of those changes has been to force members of staff back to work in their offices from June 1, ending the work from home culture.

Anyone that doesn’t agree can take voluntary redundancy beforehand and receive their four-figure bonus for the season before they leave.

Ratcliffe also described some of the facilities as a ‘disgrace’ in a memo sent to all staff after a tour of the Carrington training ground.

His email read: ‘I am afraid I was struck in many places by a high degree of untidiness.

‘In particular the IT department which frankly was a disgrace and the dressing rooms of the U18 and U21 were not much better.”

The IT department – manned by young professionals at the bottom of the club’s pay grade being asked to do menial tasks – believed they ‘have been made scapegoats for a much larger club problem’, with the criticism ‘creating a toxic feeling inside Carrington’.

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‘Old-fashioned’ Ratcliffe

And former Everton CEO Keith Wyness, who now runs a consultancy advising elite clubs, has accused Ratcliffe of implementing an “old-fashioned dictatorship style” at United.

Wyness told Football Insider‘s Insider Track podcast: “He’s got into the club and he’s got his feet under the table, and it’s been a couple of months since the whole thing was approved. Ratcliffe obviously doesn’t like what he sees.

“Whether that’s a knee-jerk reaction, I don’t know. But ever since he and his team have got near the building, he’s felt there’s too much waste, not enough engagement, not enough spirit.

“He could be trying to compare it to his INEOS business, which would be a mistake. Football clubs are a lot more organic than industrial businesses – there are huge differences. Football is so heavily reliant on human beings.

“Ratcliffe is very hands-on himself. We’ve gone back to an old-fashioned dictatorship style, to a degree.

“I hoped he might be a bit more enlightened. We might see some fresh thinking, but he’s gone back to some old-fashioned management principles.”