Man Utd takeover: Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘looking to sell club’ as UEFA ‘problem’ forces tough decision

Jason Soutar
Man Utd minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his brother at a Nice game
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his brother at a Nice game

Manchester United owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly looking to sell French club OGC Nice as a ‘long-term solution’ to abide by UEFA rules.

It was confirmed last December that INEOS founder and chairman Ratcliffe had purchased a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United. The purchase was completed in February.

The heavily-criticised Glazer family remained majority shareholders following the British billionaire’s takeover.

Ratcliffe has already made some big moves in his bid to turn around the Red Devils’ fortunes, swiftly convincing Manchester City chief executive Omar Berrada to swap blue for red.

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The 71-year-old is also involved with French club Nice and Swiss outfit Lausanne, with the former securing a Europa League spot for 2024/25.

This is a headache for Ratcliffe as UEFA rules state that two clubs under the same ownership cannot compete in the same continental competition.

UEFA has granted the two clubs permission to compete in the Europa League next term, though this is not a long-term solution, with rules to become stricter from 25/26, allowing 24/25 to be a transitional campaign.

The long-term solution for Ratcliffe appears to be selling his stake in one of the clubs and naturally, Nice is his choice.

Having only recently completed a lifelong dream of owning his boyhood club, Ratcliffe was never going to throw that opportunity away after four months.

Man Utd takeover: Ratcliffe ‘looking to sell’ Nice amid UEFA rules

According to the Independent journalist Miguel Delaney, INEOS are now ‘looking to sell’ United’s sister club Nice, which will help Ratcliffe ‘comply with UEFA’s rules on multi-club ownership’.

The report claims that Ratcliffe ‘wants to focus on’ Man Utd but he faces a ‘problem’ in his bid to sell Nice as ‘French football is currently in disarray’ after Ligue 1 failed to secure a broadcast partner for next season.

Nice’s ‘attractive location’ might help Ratcliffe out and with ‘moves at an early stage’ five years after Ratcliffe’s group bought the Ligue 1 side.

UEFA’s ‘temporary fix’ regarding both clubs’ participation sees Nice being ‘placed in blind trust’, similar to that of AC Milan and Toulouse – both owned by Red Bird Capital – in 23/24.

Again, the report notes the ‘complicating factor’ of Ligue 1’s domestic TV market ‘collapsing’.

The report states:

‘A huge complicating factor is the collapse of Ligue 1’s domestic TV market, with as yet no broadcaster agreed. Forecasts have fallen from potentially €1bn deals to a mere €500m. The situation remains unresolved with concerns over how quickly a new agreement can be set up.

Other takeover plans have stalled, with clubs already downgrading revenue expectations. An alternate view to that is it could be an opportune moment to buy a club with huge potential, in a hugely attractive location on the south coast of France. INEOS also own Swiss club Lausanne-Sport, but they have not qualified for Europe.’

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