Soccer

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's sporting record as Ineos enter Man United race

Lack of progress at Nice despite significant investment, a bouncing Mercedes car that gave Lewis Hamilton back pain… but maintaining Team Sky’s winning culture in cycling: Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s record in sport as Ineos enter race to buy Man United

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe put his hat into the ring to bid for Man United on Tuesday
  • Ratcliffe’s company Ineos already has significant involvement in several sports
  • They have struggled to make an impact in football with Nice and Lausanne-Sport
  • Ineos’ arrival at Mercedes also coincided with a transitional year for the team
  • However, Ineos have managed to achieve success in cycling, rugby and sailing 

As news broke on Tuesday evening that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company Ineos put their hat into the ring to bid for Manchester United, there was a general reaction of excitement from Red Devils supporters.

Ratcliffe is expected to face rival interest from the United States, Asia and the Middle East after the Glazer family revealed their willingness to sell United following 17 years in power at Old Trafford, but he is the first bidder to formally announce his interest in the club.

The positive response from United fans was understandable given the 70-year-old is worth an estimated £13.3bn and is known as Britain’s richest man, while he is also a fan of the club.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company Ineos put their hat into the ring to buy Man United this week

Ratcliffe, a chemicals magnate – previously tried to buy Chelsea before the Stamford Bridge club was taken over by a consortium led by Todd Boehly in May – and he met United co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer for formal talks last year.

Ratcliffe’s company Ineos have gradually become more involved in sport over recent years, with the businessman buying French club Nice for £91m in 2019 two years after purchasing Swiss team FC Lausanne-Sport.

They also have ties to the Mercedes F1 team, British sailing legend Ben Ainslie and they are a performance partner to the All Blacks, while they also sponsor the cycling team, Ineos Grenadiers – previously Team Sky.

In light of their interest in taking over United, Sportsmail takes a look at Ineos’ record in sport.

They are keen to take over from the Glazers so Sportsmail takes a look at Ineos’ record in sport

NICE

Perhaps Ineos’ most famous sporting involvement is their role as owners of French side Nice.

They took over the Ligue 1 side in the summer of 2019 for a reported €100m (£91m) and while they also own Swiss side Lausanne-Sport and have a partner club in  Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast – Nice is the most appropriate comparison when looking at a potential takeover of United.

There has been significant investment since their purchase with the club spending €209.4m (£183.8m) in the transfer market over their four seasons in charge.

The injection of capital has come at a time when Ligue 1 clubs bar state-owned PSG have struggled financially since the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning you would expect the investment to translate into significant success.

However, it hasn’t been plain sailing, with Nice failing to reach the heights that might have been expected, while the club has also seen five managers in charge since 2019.

 Ratcliffe owns French club Nice after taking over the club for a reported £87.8m back in 2019

Patrick Vieira was dismissed in 2020, while Adrian Ursea, Christophe Galtier and Lucien Favre have also been and gone in the hotseat with Didier Digard currently in charge as interim manager.

Fifth-placed finishes in 2019-20 and 2021-22 do point to positives at the club under Ineos, although the subsequent Europa League campaign in 2020-21 saw them finish rock bottom of their group.

They’ve impressed in the Europa Conference League this season – as they topped their group and secured passage to the Round of 16 – while they were also runners-up in the Coupe de France last season.

However, in the 2020-21 season, Nice finished ninth – while they are also struggling for consistency this campaign – sitting in 10th, 12 points off the European places.

It hasn’t been easy for Nice under Ratcliffe and despite heavy spending, progress is limited

Their transfer business this year has been baffling too, with a section on Ineos’ website listing their involvement in football saying: ‘A key focus is on the development of top young talent across all the clubs, providing the critical pathways for their development.’

However, this summer, Nice completed the signings of Premier League outcast Ross Barkley, 31-year-old Aaron Ramsey and 35-year-old Kasper Schmeicel – all three players are well past their best.

Before Ineos’ takeover, Nice had reached the Europa League in two of the previous three seasons, meaning one appearance in that competition in just under four years can’t be seen as much progress. 

Despite heavy spending and a focus on helping Nice break into France’s elite, Ineos haven’t quite reached the heights they had hoped to with the French side.

FC LAUSANNE-SPORT

Ineos haven’t fared much better with Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport who they took control of in November 2017.

The first signing under the new ownership was a statement one – as they brought in Enzo Zidane – son of French icon Zinedine, who had come through the youth ranks at Real Madrid.

However, they were relegated from the Swiss Super League in their inaugural campaign in charge, before they were promoted back up as champions in 2019-20.

Lausanne stayed up for one season – before they were relegated back to the second tier of Swiss football last year – finishing 18 points adrift of safety.

It hasn’t been easy for Ludovic Magnin’s side this year, with the promotion favourites currently sitting in fourth place in the Swiss Challenge League.

The British businessman also owns Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, who are in the second tier

MERCEDES F1 TEAM 

Ineos were announced as one-third shareholders in the Mercedes Formula 1 team in December 2020. 

Their first season in 2021 saw the racing team extend their Constructors’ Championship titles to eight years in a row, although Max Verstappen’s controversial victory in the Drivers’ Championship ended a seven-year streak of Mercedes drivers winning.

It was much more of a struggle last season as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggled to come to terms with their car, as Mercedes eventually finished third in the Constructors’ championship and both Brits were miles off Verstappen. 

Their struggles were emphasised at the Belgian Grand Prix in August when Mercedes were two seconds off the pace in qualifying.

Ineos became a one-third shareholder in the Mercedes Formula 1 team in December 2020

 They struggled last year as they were far behind the pace of world champion Max Verstappen

Team Principal Toto Wolff emphasised his frustrations at the time as he said: ‘It is the worst qualifying session I’ve had in 10 years. Irrespective of what positions we are going to start, being on pole at the last race in Hungary and then three weeks later, being nowhere is not acceptable.

‘The car is draggy on a straight line, Lewis said it is like dragging a parachute behind him, there is not one positive I have heard about how the car performs.’

Hamilton also outlined his disappointment at the car at various times during the season, with the seven-time world champion admitting Mercedes were ‘a long way off’ the pace.

Hamilton even revealed how defects with the car caused it to bounce at points on the track, giving him severe back pain.

There was improvement towards the end of the season, as Mercedes finished on the podium in three of the last four races and they will hope to get back to their best next season. 

Lewis Hamilton (pictured) regularly complained about the car as Mercedes had a poor season

INEOS GRENADIERS

In 2019, Ineos took over the famously successful Team Sky cycling franchise, subsequently re-branding it as the Ineos Grenadiers.

They have had significant success in the world of cycling, maintaining the winning culture that preceded them. 

The team have had 30 major wins since the start of 2019, while they also won the 2019 Tour de France and 2021 Giro d’Italia with Colombian rider Egan Bernal. 

Under the tutelage of general manager Sir Dave Brailsford, Ineos have continued their success under Ratcliffe’s ownership, signing several of the most-talented cyclists in the world.

In 2020, the team had the highest salary outlay for any team, with five of the top ten highest paid riders in the sport competing for Ineos at that time. This included Richard Carapraz, Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome.

Ratcliffe has had success with the re-branded cycling team Ineos Grenadiers since 2019

Under Ineos, they have attracted several of the world’s top cyclists like Egan Bernal (L) and Geraint Thomas (R) 

Ben Ainslie

Ineos expanded their involvement in sport even further when they paired up with British sailing legend Ben Ainslie in 2018 for the America’s Cup team.

Ratcliffe reportedly invested over £110m in the project, with Ainslie the Team Principal, CEO and skipper of the renamed INEOS Britannia.

The team took part in the Prada Cup qualifying series for the right to compete in the 36th America’s Cup in 2021 – a trophy that represents the pinnacle of yachting.

They also paired up with British sailing legend Ben Ainslie in 2018 for the America’s Cup

INEOS Britannia went all the way to the final of the qualifying competition before they lost to Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, who secured a place in the America’s Cup Match against Emirates Team New Zealand.

However, Ainslie’s side are the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup which is set to be held in 2024 – meaning it will be the first time a British team has been part of three successive Cup cycles since 1930 – suggesting Ineos can be proud of their work in the sport. 

Working together, Ainslie and Ineos have overseen significant progress, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the America’s Cup 2021

New Zealand rugby team 

The All Blacks announced a six-year partnership with Ineos as its ‘Official Performance Partner’ for all its seven ‘teams in black’ from 2022.

A statement from New Zealand rugby at the time said: ‘As Official Performance Partner, the All Blacks have joined INEOS Sport teams Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, INEOS Britannia sailing team, and football clubs OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport as part of a unique sport performance group.’

Since the partnership began, New Zealand rugby enjoyed another successful year in 2022, with the Black Ferns having a particularly special 12 months.

They retained the World Cup in November, meaning they have now won the tournament on six of the past seven occasions. 

The All Blacks are also one of the favourites for the Men’s World Cup later this year and Ineos will hope to continue their successful streak in the sport.

As arguably one of sport’s most successful ever teams, it is hard to measure the impact Ineos have had – but by being associated to their progress – it is most certainly a tick in the box for Ratcliffe and Co. and their involvement in sport.

As a performance partner for New Zealand rugby, Ineos saw the Black Ferns won the World Cup last year




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