Football regulator ‘won’t be good’ – Ratcliffe

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Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe opposes the idea of implementing a football regulator and expresses empathy towards Manchester City’s challenge against the Premier League’s regulations.

Ratcliffe holds a 27.7% stake in United and effectively oversees day-to-day operations, sanctioned by the Glazer family.

He has recently appointed Jason Wilcox as the new technical director, with Omar Berrada slated to assume the role of chief executive next month. United is also in the process of finalizing a compensation agreement with Newcastle to install Dan Ashworth as sporting director.

Ratcliffe was also instrumental in the decision to retain manager Erik ten Hag, despite the club’s discussions with several potential replacements.

Moreover, he has approved a £50m renovation of the club’s Carrington training complex, with construction underway. This renovation will necessitate the first-team’s relocation from the main building for significant portions of the upcoming season.

While Ratcliffe focuses on matters concerning United, he remains cognizant of broader issues within the sport, particularly the prospect of a new government-backed football regulator.

“If you’ve got a government regulator, at the end of the day they will regulate and that won’t be good,” Ratcliffe said in an extensive interview with Bloomberg.

The proposed changes were outlined in the Football Governance Bill, which was put on hold when the General Election was called. However, both the Conservative and Labour parties have pledged to revisit it if they form the next government.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously cautioned against the potential for ‘unintended consequences’ arising from the implementation of a regulator. He has expressed concerns that such a move could jeopardize the league’s status as the most financially lucrative in the world.

This is just one of several regulatory matters confronting Premier League clubs, who are required to adhere to existing profit and sustainability regulations for at least another season.

Manchester City is currently contesting the legality of the league’s associated party transaction (APT) rules, which determine the fairness of sponsorship deals financially.

The reigning Premier League champions are not alone in their belief that these rules should be abolished.

“I can understand why they are challenging it,” said Ratcliffe. “You can understand why they would say that they want an open market, a free market.”

Discussions between the Premier League and the Football League regarding a potential ‘New Deal’ for funding have been paused until the Premier League resolves its own updated financial regulations. Several top-flight clubs are hesitant about allocating additional funds, especially to perceived competitors.

During its recent annual meeting, clubs reached a consensus to experiment with an ‘anchoring’ strategy, tying expenditure to the revenues of the club finishing at the bottom of the table.

Ratcliffe holds reservations about this approach, expressing a broader skepticism towards excessive regulation in general.

“What would anchoring do?” he said. “The last thing you want in the Premier League is for the top clubs not to be able to compete with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and PSG.

“We’ve got more accountants than we’ve got sporting people at Manchester United. If you’re not careful, the Premier League is going to finish up spending more time in court than it is thinking about what’s good for the league.”

Man Utd willing to look at defensive options

United are trying to balance what is accepted as a tight profit and sustainability situation with efforts to improve Ten Hag’s squad.

They have had a £35m bid for Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite rejected – and although an improved offer is anticipated, United feel the £70m asking price for the 21-year-old is unrealistic. It is understood they are prepared to move on to other defensive options, which include Lille’s 18-year-old Leny Yoro, who is also attracting interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid.

It was understood Nice’s Jean-Claude Todibo was also on their list but, without naming the player, Ratcliffe says a deal with the French club, which he also owns, has been blocked.

“They [Uefa] have said we can sell him to another Premier League club, but we can’t sell to Manchester United,” he said.

United are also looking to strengthen their attack and are rivalling AC Milan for Bologna’s Netherlands international Joshua Zirkzee.

United believe they have enough room within their profit and sustainability submissions to make one signing before the 30 June reporting date if required, although they are in advanced talks with a number of clubs that could result in the exit of Mason Greenwood, who the club have resolved to sell.