MANCHESTER, England — With the ownership of Manchester United up in the air and the team struggling early in the Premier League season, manager Erik ten Hag is doing his best to keep his focus on the field and out of the boardroom.
Ignoring the noise surrounding the club’s potential sale isn’t easy, however, with British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe looking to become a minority shareholder alongside the Glazer family.
If the Ineos owner’s bid is successful, he could also take control of United’s soccer operations.
“I’m not involved in this. Others in the club are dealing with this,” Ten Hag said Friday. “I am focusing on my team, I’m focusing on the coming block (of games), and I am focusing on the most important priority, the next game – it’s all about that.”
The Dutch coach met with Ratcliffe when an Ineos delegation took a tour of United’s stadium and training center in March as part of the sale process.
Ratcliffe is bidding for a 25% stake in United and wants to oversee the the sporting side of the business, a person with knowledge of his proposal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
United has not won the league title since former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, and the club has won only four major trophies in the meantime. Ten Hag won the League Cup in his first year in charge last season.
But his second year as manager is not going so well, with United losing six of its first 11 games in all competitions and facing a fight to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League after back-to-back losses.
United’s American owners, the Glazers, in November announced plans to seek outside investment, raising the possibility of the club being sold.
Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar were both bidding to buy out Glazers. But Sheikh Jassim said over the weekend he was withdrawing, apparently leaving the way clear for Ratcliffe, who is said to be worth $15.1 billion.
United travels to Sheffield United on Saturday in its first game since two late goals from Scott McTominay before the international break earned a much-needed win over Brentford.
Casemiro is unavailable after picking up a minor injury while playing for Brazil in World Cup qualifying, but Raphael Varane, Sergio Reguilon and Sofyan Amrabat are all in contention.
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