Who is Sir Dave Brailsford, Jim Ratcliffe’s new right-hand man at Manchester United?

Just like on the pitch, it's the team working behind the scenes that are also being tasked with delivering results.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 3rd January 2024

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% stake in Manchester United finally agreed, the football bods, business experts and fans alike are all now wondering what the club will look like under the British billionaire’s regime, but there’s also another important name newly appointed at the helm: Sir Dave Brailsford.

While most of the headlines have naturally revolved around the big-money man and primary deal-maker, who has reportedly spent around £1.3 billion to purchase his chunk of shares and a seat on the Man United board, Dave Brailsford joining the club’s executive team is also hugely significant.

Officially starting in his capacity on United‘s football board on New Year’s Eve 2023, just days after sitting in the stands to watch the Red Devils’ 3-2 comeback against Aston Villa, the 59-year-old has already set about meeting staff, touring the facilities and taking a look under the bonnet, so to speak.

Part of the reason that his arrival is of such interest comes not only as a result of his seniority and proximity as Ratcliffe‘s de-facto right-hand man but because unless you had prior knowledge of his CV or INEOS and their sporting division’s key figures, most people are relatively unaware of who he is.

Who is Sir Dave Brailsford?

Sir David John Brailsford CBE is a British sports coach with a long and decorated career in cycling, helping Team GB net a remarkable total of 14 Olympic medals in 2008, taking home eight gold medals for British Cycling at both Beijing and London 2012. He was ultimately knighted for his efforts in 2013.


After this first wave of success, he was then put in charge of the Team Sky cycling team which featured the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas and went on to win eight Grand Tours before the team name was rebranded as the INEOS Grenadiers in 2019. Short version: they’ve won a lot.

Across both iterations under the ownership of Ratcliffe’s conglomerate (the fourth biggest chemical engineering company in the world, estimated to turnover £50bn a year), Brailsford enjoyed a decade of dominance as Team Principal before being made Director of Sport at INEOS in December 2021.

Sir Dave Brailsford’s background might be predominantly in cycling, but he’s more than dabbled in football since heading up INEOS Sport.

Having been put in charge of all sporting activities including cycling, sailing (INEOS Britannia), football — OGC Nice in France, Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport and now United) — rugby (All Blacks’ official ‘Performance Partner’) and Formula 1 (co-owner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team), the Derbyshire-born sports performance director is being entrusted with the Premier League project.

What is Braislford’s role at Manchester United?

With United being folded into the existing INEOS Sports portfolio, Brailsford will continue his role across all disciplines and is expected that an outright sporting director will be appointed to oversee the football side of things at Old Trafford, specifically — of which Ratcliffe and co. have been given ‘full control’ of.

Although John Murtough is currently in post and has been since March 2021, it is thought he will depart the club once INEOS takes over, having faced plenty of criticism over Man United’s transfer policy in that time, including an apparent row with Sir Alex Ferguson over failing to sign Jude Bellingham.


Names linked with the job include Dougie Freedman (Crystal Palace), Paul Mitchell, who has worked with the likes of (Spurs, RB Leipzig), as well as Dan Ashworth (Brighton, Newcastle), with some reports suggesting the latter two could come in as sporting director and head of recruitment, respectively.

Either way, whoever is given the job will then report to Brailsford and the business magnate from Failsworth above them, who make up what is effectively being touted as a trio of executive board members strictly tasked with footballing matters. So who makes up the third element of that trifecta?

Who else is taking control of footballing operations at Man United?

Whilst Patrick Stewart (no, not the bloke from Star Trek) has been put in charge on an interim basis following the departure of Richard Arnold, the club is still on the hunt for a new full-time CEO and, for all intents and purposes, that individual looks to be Jean-Claude Blanc.

The French businessman and sports executive is best known for his time serving on the board at both Juventus and PSG — his time in Paris coinciding with the Qatari takeover in 2011 and the start of their Ligue 1 supremacy — but more recently joined Ratcliffe’s ranks and

Being made CEO of INEOS Sports in December 2022, like Brailsford, Blanc has become one of the new United owner’s closest confidants and looks set to be installed as the new CEO imminently.


With the January transfer window now open and the final details of Ratcliffe’s deal soon to be fully ratified by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), the club will be hoping to put all these puzzle pieces in place sooner rather than later.

Once again, full confirmation of all these particulars is still pending and, by the terms of their current agreement, the Glazers could still technically buy out Ratcliffe before he even gets going, so the next few months could prove critical for Manchester United.

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Featured Images — Sky Sports/The Manc Group/INEOS (via YouTube)