INEOS: Who They Are & How Manchester United Will Benefit?
On the 24th of December, it was announced that Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS had bought a 25% stake in Manchester United Football Club; a deal which is set to see a new sporting structure brought into the club as well as a $300 million dollar investment. It is believed that this deal is set to give Ratcliffe control over the footballing operations at United, whilst the unpopular Glazer family will carry on running the rest of the business.
Current director of sport at INEOS, Sir David Brailsford, is expected to join the board and help lead the footballing operations as well as former Juventus chairman of the board and now INEOS CEO Jean Claude Blanc, who is also expected to help with United’s current’s structure.
Both are predicted to focus their priorities on improving the recruitment and scouting systems, which in the past ten years has massively underperformed.
Although the January transfer window is vastly approaching, no official work can be done by INEOS as the deal is still waiting regulatory approval, however Ratcliffe’s men will act as consultants and no major decisions within the club can be made without conversing with INEOS, as per the agreement.
So, to Manchester United fans and the rest of the footballing population who are unaware of INEOS and their past ventures in sport, let us look at who they are and how they can guide Manchester United back their brilliant best of the past.
INEOS and their sporting past
Founded in 1998 by Ratcliffe, INEOS have grown to become one of the world’s leading Chemical companies. They are massive advocates for green energy and are pioneers in creating sustainable energy from waste products.
However, in recent years as a company they have delved into the sporting world and have forged successful partnerships with some of sports biggest names.
2017 was Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s first venture into the world of football – becoming owner of Swiss first division side Lausanne Sport FC. A step into the unknown for Ratcliffe and his time as owner proved trickier than first thought.
A relegation in their first season due to overspending and their choice to bring in big-named stars over the correct personal is a mistake which has since been admitted by Bob Ratcliffe, Jims Brother, who at the time oversaw footballing interests for INEOS. Bob has since come out and said that at the time they were ‘naive’ and that they were “not getting advice from the right people.”
Following on from their first steps into football, the summer of 2019 saw INEOS take over French side OGC Nice in a deal worth $110 million. Yet the same problems still occurred, and no lessons had been learnt from their experience in Switzerland. A club which was lacking structure and who were ‘stuck in their ways’, Ratcliffe led a more hands off approach and let those already at the club carry on.
Their poor recruitment again followed suit. Signings like Aaron Ramsey and Ross Barkley were players who were thought to be poor value for money and considered well past their sell by date. All who have since moved on.
Nice found themselves with a high turnover of managers, a ground becoming ever more desolate and underperforming in the league.
In 2022, an audit was undergone by Director of Sport for INEOS, Sir David Brailsford. Many of the club’s longstanding members and executives were shipped out and a new structure was put in place.
A high focus on youth and building for the future is now becoming a success for Nice. They currently sit second in Ligue 1 and look a much more positive and sustainable outfit than when first taken over.
Away from football, the previously dominant Team Sky in the world of Cycling were bought by INEOS in 2019. Now named INEOS Grenadiers, they are yet to win a Tour De France.
Early 2020 saw Ratcliffe’s company become principal partners with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. Later that year in December they became equal owners, joining Toto Wolff and Daimler.
Other Ventures in sport have seen INEOS back the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge to become the first runner to run a marathon in under two-hours, whilst also entering the world of sailing and helping Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie to challenge for the Americas Cup with his INEOS Britannia sailing team.
What can INEOS bring to Manchester United?
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s journey into sport has not been as straightforward as just pumping money into a club and letting success happen overnight. He has made mistakes along the way and that is evident. However, he has not been afraid to learn and has turned prior failures into success. His decisions to employ marginal gains Expert Sir David Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc, a major kingpin in running successful sporting organisations across Europe, have clearly been greatly beneficial and with them both set to link up at Manchester United, it can only be expected that a structural change in footballing operations is imminent.
As well as an internal re-shuffle, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is set to pump $300 million into Old Trafford’s infrastructure. Populous, a consultant for United’s ground development have suggested that the ground is coming to the end of its time and that immediate action is required in order to keep the ground safe and to keep up with their rivals.
INEOS have definitely got their work cut out and Sir Jim Ratcliffe has already stated that they have a long-term plan and that it isn’t an overnight fix. It is evident that as a company INEOS have been successful with large sporting organisations before so Manchester United fans can be hopeful of seeing improvement, but they must be patient.