Why Britain’s richest man swerved Toon and Chelsea…

Ian Watson

INEOS Football’s chief executive Bob Ratcliffe has revealed the energy company considered buying a Premier League club, including Chelsea and Newcastle, before completing its takeover of Nice.

Ligue 1 club Nice were bought by chemicals firm INEOS, founded by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, for £88.77million last month.

Ratcliffe’s brother Bob, who heads up INEOS’ football division, told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme 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,” Bob Ratcliffe said.

“We looked at the valuation of Premiership clubs and £5billion in revenues for the Premier League and top six clubs being valued at £2bn and upwards, and £450 (million) 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 said that INEOS did not get as far as discussing a possible takeover of Chelsea with owner Roman Abramovich.

“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.”

Bob Ratcliffe said INEOS, who took over and rebranded cycling’s Team Sky in May, had considered buying other Premier League clubs.

“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.”