Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe says the Glazer family told him they do not want to sell Manchester United – but he is still interested in buying a Premier League club.
Ratcliffe, 69, was unsuccessful in his bid to buy Chelsea in May.
The billionaire, whose Ineos group owns Nice in France and Swiss club Lausanne, met brothers Joel and Avram Glazer.
“It is owned by the six children of the father and they don’t want to sell,” Ratcliffe said.
He told told a Financial Times Live conference: “I met Joel and Avram and they are the nicest people. They are proper gentlemen.
“If it had been for sale in the summer, yes, we would probably have had a go following on from the Chelsea thing.
“But we can’t sit around hoping that one day Manchester United will become available.”
United have been owned by the Glazer family since 2005.
Their Premier League home game against Liverpool in May last year was postponed because of an organised protest by United fans against the owners.
Thousands of supporters marched to Old Trafford in protest before the same fixture this season, in August.
Lancashire-born Ratcliffe, the majority shareholder of chemical group Ineos, made a late bid for Chelsea worth £4.25bn but lost out to a consortium led by American investor Todd Boehly.
In a BBC Sport interview following that offer, Ratcliffe said he is originally a United fan has “split loyalties” between the two clubs.
On still being in the market for a Premier League club, he said: “The most popular sport in the world is football and it is the sport closest to us.
“So we should have an asset. Not a Premiership [club], I think a premier club.”