Jim Ratcliffe, this is the billionaire who will govern Manchester United

Common sense says that a petrochemical products company, intended for wholesale sales to other industries, has little to no role in the world of sports sponsorship. Why would anyone want to promote their brand to the general public, which is what sports facilitates, when their sales do not occur in street-level establishments but in executive offices? A priori, it doesn’t make any sense. But Jim Ratcliffethe owner of Ineos, raises his hand and says he does have it. At least for him.

He has it because his mental scheme with sponsorship and the purchase of sports assets is not related to achieving an economic return. Ratcliffe, unknown outside business and economic circles, does not aspire to awareness of its brand (although, since it is, he also does it), but to satisfy your most intimate desires: Who hasn’t ever wanted to be the owner of the soccer team they cheered for since they were children? Ratcliffe, who is a billionaire for that reason, has achieved it.

Since Christmas Eve, this British businessman is officially the owner of 25% of the shares of the Manchester United, the most powerful football brand in the world in the last two decades, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Today, on Boxing Day, he will debut his status as co-owner of the Mancunian club in the match that will be played at Old Trafford against Unai Emery’s Aston Villa, the great revelation of this Premier League.

Owner of Nice and Lausanne

As part of the agreement, Ratcliffe, through Ineos, will assume the control of the club’s sporting operations. That is, he will be the one who decides who is the team’s coach, which players are hired and which are sold. A task in which he already has experience, since Manchester United is the third club of which he is a shareholder, after acquire Swiss Lausanne in 2017 and French club Nice in 2019. Both, seen with perspective, a test bed for what is coming now.

Ratcliffe, it is written, is a businessman in the chemical industry who knew how to build an empire. He founded Ineos in 1998 and gradually turned it into the fourth petrochemical company with the highest turnover in the world, according to specialized publications. A business giant with which he has been opening other avenues of business, such as Ineos Grenadier, an all-terrain vehicle that he has turned into the jewel in his crown.

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This brand is the one that gives its name to what until Christmas Eve was its main investment in sports, the British cycling team that reached the top under the name Sky. When the television network decided to withdraw, in 2019, a brutal disinvestment was expected, but Ineos maintained it and continues to be one of the bastions of world cycling, with riders such as Tom Pidcock, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal and the promising Spanish Carlos Rodríguez.

Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas greet each other at the end of the eighth stage of the Giro. Tour of Italy

His investment in cycling is paradigmatic of Ratcliffe’s goals. The sport of cycling is not profitable in economic terms, there is no way to achieve a direct return on investment, beyond the sale of merchandising, the parrot’s chocolate. Ineos names the team because Ratcliffe likes cycling and wants to fulfill himself through those around 40 or 50 million euros that allocates to him each year.

Athletics, Formula 1, rugby…

Something similar happened in 2019, when it sponsored the project so that Eliud Kipchoge will go under two hours in a marathon, under the name of Ineos 1:59 Challenge. It was a show, because the conditions of the test, always surrounded by hares (41 in total) among other licenses such as bicycle supplies, did not allow the brand to be official, something that was known in advance. However, Ratcliffe wanted to link his name to a historical event such as the fact that a human being ran a marathon in less than two hours for the first time.

Ineos has also entered the Formula 1, sponsoring and acquiring 33% of the Mercedes-Benz team by Lewis Hamilton; in sailing, with one of the boats that will compete in the 2024 Copa América, starting in Barcelona; and in rugby, sponsoring the New Zealand team, current runner-up in the world.

What will Ratcliffe do at Manchester United?

It now remains to know how Manchester United will manage, at a time of change in the economic management of English clubs, with a new Premier League fair-play regulation and with that of UEFA already in the application period.

To begin with, the agreement that Ratcliffe has reached, after a year and a half of negotiations, includes a direct injection of £300 million into the sports project. On his day, Manchester United fan Ratcliffe severely criticized the waste of money on players of dubious quality. Now it is his turn so that the Old Trafford team, after more than a decade away from the main titles, can once again be the biggest club on the planet that it once was.

2023-12-26 07:40:35
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