Ratcliffe to ‘surrender’ Nice control so Man Utd escape UEFA ban; INEOS plan to avoid ‘conflict’

Lewis Oldham
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have problems with dressing-room leaks.

According to reports, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS have hatched a plan to ensure Manchester United manage to escape a UEFA Champions League ban.

It was confirmed on Tuesday night that Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 27.7% stake in Man Utd has been completed and he will now take control of footballing matters at Old Trafford.

In response to this announcement, Ratcliffe said: “To become co-owner of Manchester United is a great honour and comes with great responsibility.

“This marks the completion of the transaction, but just the beginning of our journey to take Manchester United back to the top of English, European and world football, with world-class facilities for our fans.

“Work to achieve those objectives will accelerate from today.”

One issue Ratcliffe could face at Man Utd relates to him also being involved with Ligue Un outfit OGC Nice. He has been the owner of the French club since 2019.

Under current regulations, Man Utd and Nice would be unable to compete in the Champions League next season if the two clubs qualify for the competition.

The Red Devils are currently five points adrift of fourth-placed Aston Villa, while Nice are third in Ligue Un.

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In an attempt to avoid a sticky situation ahead of next season, a report from The Telegraph claims ‘Ineos could surrender direct day-to-day involvement at Nice to remove the threat of Manchester United or the French club being unable to play European football’. They explain.

‘Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s impending purchase of a 28.9 per cent stake in United raises a potential conflict of interest given that the Ineos founder is the majority shareholder at Nice, who are also chasing Champions League qualification.

‘Under Uefa rules, the same owner or entity are not permitted “decisive influence” in decision-making across two or more clubs.

‘Ratcliffe is expected to hold talks with Uefa before the end of the season to fully establish what flexibility exists, not least as Aleksander Ceferin, the European governing body’s president, has stated publicly that the regulations require greater clarity. But sources have indicated that Ineos could look to structure Nice so as to remove any “day-to-day control” and leave the Ligue 1 club as a “stand-alone” entity, with Ratcliffe remaining as the major investor in the background.

‘That is not so far removed from the situation that is now taking shape at Nice, where Jean-Pierre Rivere and Fabrice Bocquet serve as president and chief executive respectively, with Florent Ghisolfi as sporting director and Laurent Bessiere as director of performance.

‘Sir Dave Brailsford has taken an increasing backseat at Nice in recent times with the Ineos sporting director’s focus now centring on United, where he has played a key role in the appointment of Omar Berrada as chief executive and the pursuit of Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth.’

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