MANCHESTER, England, Oct 11 (Reuters) - British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe said he had contacted Manchester United owners the Glazer family about buying the English Premier League club, but was told they were not for sale.
Ratcliffe, head of chemical company INEOS, was interested in investing in the 20-time English top flight champions back in August, a source close to the Manchester-born billionaire had told Reuters, but no official bid was launched.
The Glazers have been the target of criticism for their failure to invest in the team who have not won a trophy in five years. United's net debt, another bone of contention among fans, had grown by nearly 23% to 515 million pounds ($565.78 million) by September.
"Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family, whom I have met," Ratcliffe told an event hosted by the Financial Times on Tuesday. "I've met Joel and Avram (Glazer) and they are the nicest people, I have to say, they are proper gentlemen.
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"They don't want to sell it. It's owned by the six children of the father and they don't want to sell it.
"If it had have been for sale in the summer, yes, we would have probably had a go following on from the Chelsea thing, but we can't sit around hoping that one day Manchester United will become available."
Ratcliffe failed this year in an attempt to buy London club Chelsea, who were ultimately bought by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
Purchasing another Premier League team is not out of the question.
"We have an exciting sporting franchise (Nice in France's Ligue 1), but the one thing we don't have is a Premier (League) team," Ratcliffe added.
"The most popular sport in the world is football and it is the sport we were brought up with and it's the one most close to us. We really should have an asset in the sporting franchise."
($1 = 0.9102 pounds)
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