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INEOS’s sports portfolio: Formula One to sailing

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has expanded his sports portfolio by buying a 25 percent stake in Manchester United.

Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals company INEOS has already used its vast profits to fund a series of sporting projects in football, cycling, Formula One, athletics and sailing.

AFP Sport looks at INEOS’s record. 


INEOS took control of French club Nice in 2019 in a reported 100 million euro ($110 million) deal.

Stated ambitions from Ratcliffe’s brother Bob, who heads INEOS’s football operations, to reach the Champions League within “three to five” years have not been realised yet, though they are second in Ligue 1 in the current campaign.

Despite the backing of one of Britain’s richest men, INEOS’s football projects have focused on developing young talent rather than splashing out on big transfer fees.

The company’s first foray into football was a takeover of Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport, in 2017.

It has been a bumpy ride, with two relegations and two promotions back to the top tier.

“We made some mistakes at Lausanne, but we are fast learners,” said Jim Ratcliffe when taking charge at Nice.

However, fiscal responsibility has been central to INEOS’s plans for Lausanne. 

“Clubs need to be successful off the pitch, as well as on it,” said Ratcliffe.


INEOS invested in cycling in 2019 by taking over the British outfit Team Sky, which had dominated cycling.

Sky won the Tour de France six times between 2012 and 2018, with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the saddle and Dave Brailsford pulling the strings.

Brailsford has since become INEOS’ director of sport, overseeing multiple projects.

Success at the Tour de France continued for the first year of Team INEOS as Colombian Egal Bernal claimed the yellow jersey in 2019.

However, despite boasting the biggest budget in cycling at around 50 million euros, INEOS have since been eclipsed by UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma.

Formula One

INEOS took a one-third stake in Formula One team Mercedes in 2020.

However, after seven consecutive drivers’ world championships with Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have been usurped by Red Bull and Max Verstappen.


INEOS backed Eliud Kipchoge’s successful effort to become the first man to run a marathon in under two hours in Vienna in 2019.

Kipchoge was aided by a group of pacemakers, working in shifts, to form a V-shaped aerodynamic drag position using expertise that INEOS gained from cycling’s peloton.

However, the feat was not recognised by athletics chiefs as a world record due to the conditions used to aid the Kenyan.


INEOS Britannia, led by four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, will challenge for the 2024 America’s Cup in Barcelona after falling short in their aim of becoming the first-ever British winners in 2021.

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