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Hamilton has admitted that he would be open to the idea of joining a consortium to buy Manchester United led by his friend Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and the F1 star has plenty of cash to invest
The Premier League giants are up for sale after current owners the Glazer Family admitted they were “exploring strategic opportunities”. That was music to the ears of a vocal section of the Red Devils’ fanbase which has grown disillusioned with the current owners and want a change.
The list of billionaires and businesses which have been linked with making an offer is so long that it might be quicker to name those who aren’t on it. But one of those more serious about the prospect of owning the club is Ratcliffe – chief executive of INEOS and a lifelong United fan.
The 70-year-old, who is one of Britain’s richest men, has gone back and forth on the subject. But he is clearly keen to buy a big club in England if he can, as evidenced by his attempt to buy Chelsea last year, and so owning United will be an attractive prospect to him.
Hamilton was one of those who joined Ratcliffe’s consortium when submitted a bid for the Blues, which was ultimately rejected in favour of Todd Boehly’s offer. And when recently asked about the prospect of doing the same for United, the F1 star made it clear he was open to the idea.
The Brit knows Ratcliffe personally, having referred to the billionaire as both a friend and a business partner in the past. Hamilton also races for the Mercedes F1 team which is part owned by the INEOS chief, along with team principal Toto Wolff and the Daimler Group.
The 38-year-old racer is keen on extending his F1 career, but has also been building a business empire ready for when he is no longer driving competitively. He is already involved in the sports business world, having invested in NFL franchise the Denver Broncos last year.
Hamilton’s other ventures include his own film production company, his +44 clothing brand and several investments including in vegan firms and online grocery app Zapp. Financial experts Forbes estimate he made around £6.5m in “off-field earnings” in 2022, compared to his £46.8m racing salary.
Those figures pale in comparison with his net worth. Hamilton has been F1’s top earner for many years now and has the assets to prove it. Figures from the Sunday Times estimate his wealth to stand at £300m, while he is also one of the top philanthropists having made £20m in recent donations.
Of course, while Hamilton’s fortune is impressive, it is a drop in the ocean compared to what would be needed to buy Man United. The Glazers would most likely want a world record fee to be tempted to sell the club, even if many fans do want them out.
It has been reported that they would demand as much as £8bn – doubling the current record for the sale of any sports franchise, set by the Broncos of which Hamilton is now a part-owner. By comparison, Boehly paid around £2.5bn to buy Chelsea, though the price was likely lower than usual due to the special circumstances surrounding that sale.
Considering the Glazers paid £790m to buy United back in 2005, such a sale figure would see them make a massive profit. It remains to be seen which of the rumoured prospective buyers will make an official offer, though the feeling is a more realistic – therefore much lower – price tag would be needed to tempt any bids.
Feature image credit: Lewis Hamilton via Instagram