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Manchester United supporters have been given a glimpse into the world of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, as their former midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has opened up on his time at Nice – the Ligue 1 club owned by the INEOS chief. The Frenchman spent 18 months at Old Trafford after a £25million move from Southampton, but struggled at the Red Devils and ended up moving to Everton and then back to his homeland.
Schneiderlin has spent two-and-a-half years at Nice but has spent this season on loan at Australian club Western Sydney Wanderers. Having experienced what it is like to play for a club owned by Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man that has submitted two offers to purchase United, the 33-year-old described his time at Nice.
“His brother [Bob] was very involved in the club in my first season but then took a step back,” Schneiderlin told the Daily Mail. “But when we saw Jim Ratcliffe, he was a gentleman. You don’t think he’s a billionaire. He is so normal, so nice and good.
“He came a few times to speak to us, especially last year before the final of the French Cup. It was clear he wanted the best for Nice. I know he is a Manchester United fan, so we will see what happens.”
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United supporters will be glad to hear that Ratcliffe has a certain humility to him, according to Schneiderlin, though he may have to make a big decision regarding his ownership of the French club if he is chosen by the Raine Group to go forward with his attempts to buy United.
ESPN have claimed that Ratcliffe could be forced to sell his stake in Nice to avoid the chance of one of his teams being excluded from the Champions League. With Nice currently sat in seventh place in Ligue 1 and United third in the Premier League, there is a chance – if not next season then in the future – that both clubs could be set to compete in the same European competition.
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UEFA regulations state that two teams controlled by the same person or group are forbidden from competing in the same competition, though those rules are set to be relaxed by the governing body’s president Aleksander Ceferin.
Though Red Bull were claimed to have owned both Salzburg and Leipzig teams, in 2017 a panel of experts accepted that the Red Bull group had diversified enough and separated the structures of RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg.
While Ratcliffe’s rival bidder Sheikh Jassim is also reportedly considering a multi-club structure with another Qatari-owned club in Paris Saint-Germain, alongside Portuguese side Braga. However, as Jassim is a private individual and PSG are owned by Qatari Sports Investments, there is unlikely to be an issue.
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