Sir Jim Ratcliffes sporting empire already stretches across F1 and football

With Manchester United fans planning another protest against their current ownership ahead of their clash with Liverpool – Sir Jim Ratcliffe announced intentions to purchase a stake in the club.

Ratcliffe, who is the richest man in Britain, is said to be interested in the club along with former players and cycling guru Sir Dave Brailsford. The 69-year-old, who is also a Red Devils fan, has increased his involvement in sport in the last five years.

And Ratcliffe has silently been creating a sporting empire through his INEOS company: but the Red Devils would be the jewel in the proverbial crown for Ratcliffe and INEOS' empire.

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Football – Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport

Ratcliffe's first foray into sport came in 2017, when he purchased Swiss Super League club FC Lausanne-Sport.

The 69-year-old described his Swiss adventure as 'dipping his toes in the water', and after they were relegated in the first season under his ownership – Radcliffe decided why settle for less than the best. However, he invested in another club, Nice, in 2019.

However, under Ratcliffe's ownership, Nice have yet to challenge for a Ligue 1 title against the mega-money PSG.

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Sailing – Team INEOS UK

Ratcliffe's first significant investment in sport came in 2018, when he bankrolled Ben Ainslie's attempt to win the America's Cup.

No British boat had ever won the prestigious sailing event, and when Ainslie set his eyes on the event, Ratcliffe parted ways with £100million. Ratcliffe quipped: "We are writing a cheque for £100 million and we’re not casual with our money. We feel we have the Usain Bolt of sailing.”

Ainslie would lose 7-1 in what was effectually a semi-final to the Italian outfit Team Luna Rossa.

Cycling – INEOS-Grenadiers

However, Ainslie's loss was a splash in the ocean for Ratcliffe, by then he'd agreed a deal to purchase the most successful cycling team of the past decade: Team Sky.

Team Sky, now INEOS-Grenadiers, had an annual budget of £50million – which has continued to rise under Ratcliffe's ownership. Three months after taking over, INEOS' starlet Egan Bernal became the youngster Tour de France winner since World War 2.

Under Ratcliffe, INEOS have gone on to win two Giro d'Italia's and narrowly missed out on the Vuelta a Espana in 2020 and 2021.

Running – INEOS 1:59 Challenge

With Ratcliffe's funding, Eliud Kipchoge became the first man ever to break the two-hour barrier running a marathon.

Everything was methodically planned by INEOS, the route was picked in Vienna to be at optimum altitude – as well as having trees supplying oxygen along the side of the road. The lead car was electric to save Kipchoge from breathing in fumes.

Kipchoge's success is arguably Ratcliffe's most impressive feat in the sporting world.

F1 – Mercedes AMG F1

However, Ratcliffe's best investment into sport has to be his agreement to be the principal sponsor of the Mercedes AMG F1 team.

Ratcliffe agreed to a five-year £100 million sponsorship deal in February 2020, ten months later Lewis Hamilton was the world champion. And the Brit came within a lap of repeating the success the following season.

“This is a unique opportunity to make a financial investment in a team at the very top of its game, but which still has rich potential to grow in the future," Ratcliffe said when investing in the team.

Rugby Union – New Zealand

Ratcliffe's last significant investment into sport came last July, when he signed a six-year sponsorship with the New Zealand Rugby Union team.

The deal was criticised by Greenpeace: “In the thick of the climate crisis, it’s gutting to see NZ sign a sponsorship deal with an oil and gas polluting conglomerate like INEOS that is responsible for driving us deeper into the climate crisis, and fouling the oceans with plastic pollution."

With the deal still in its infancy, Ratcliffe is yet to see a return on his initial investment.


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