Football News

Ineos boss reveals he considered Chelsea and Newcastle takeover bids before Nice purchase

By Ben Green

Published: 18:22, 9 September 2019

Ineos Football’s chief executive Bob Ratcliffe has revealed the petrochemicals firm explored the possibility of buying either Chelsea or Newcastle United prior to their takeover of Nice.

At the end of last month, Ineos, founded by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, purchased the Ligue 1 outfit and immediately outlined their intentions to help guide the club into Champions League football.

Ineos’ purchase of Nice: Five things to know…

  • Nice were bought by chemicals firm Ineos at the end of August for €100m (£88.77m).
  • The company was founded by Britain’s third-richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
  • Ratcliffe’s brother, Bob, is the chief executive of the company’s ‘Ineos Football’ group.
  • He has now revealed Ineos spoke to Chelsea about a possible take-over but the two party’s respective valuations were ‘significantly’ apart.
  • Bob Ratcliffe says Ineos also looked at Newcastle but the valuation on Tyneside deterred their interest.

However, the story could have been different, with Ratcliffe’s brother Bob explaining how Premier League clubs made it “pretty difficult to rationalise” investing in top-flight English football.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek, he said: “It was pretty difficult to rationalise purchases in the Premier League at this time for us.

“We’d obviously been looking at Premiership clubs as well. We spent quite a lot of time looking at Premier League clubs.

“We looked at the valuation of Premiership clubs and £5b in revenues for the Premier League and top six clubs being valued at £2bn and upwards, and £450m of net profit before tax.

“[It’s] pretty difficult to rationalise purchases in the Premier League at this time for us and then, if you look below the top six, they’re all £150m and above and you’re going to write a cheque for £50m and get in the ‘Everton Cup’.”

Bob Ratcliffe went on to explain how the firm were in contact with Chelsea about the possibility of a take-over but the likelihood of new ownership in west London immediately faded once it became apparent just how much Roman Abramovich was valuing the club.

“No. There was some exchange, but we were a long way apart on valuation,” he said. “I can’t recollect how far it was, but it was significant.

“It was early exchanges and the issue with Chelsea as well is that it’s got a stadium issue and we’re all getting older and that’s a decade of your life to resolve that.”

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‘We looked at Newcastle’

Another club Ineos looked at according to Bob Ratcliffe was Newcastle but, again, the firm’s interest was instantly quashed once they discovered just how much it would cost to purchase the Magpies.

“In fairness, you look at Newcastle, and we looked at a lot of clubs in the Premiership, after the sort of noise around Chelsea, people talked to us about a high proportion of clubs,” he added.

“Obviously people talked to us about Newcastle as well. But again you come back to a valuation in the hundreds of millions and it’s very difficult to contemplate.”

When asked if the Premier League was now off Ineos’ radar, Bob Ratcliffe added: “I think for the foreseeable future it is.

“We’ve got a three to five-year project in Nice now and that’s going to keep us very busy.”