Sir Jim Ratcliffe explains OGC Nice ownership concerns after buying Man Utd stake

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe will keep his interest in OGC Nice
  • British billionaire is Man Utd's new investor
  • UEFA rules on multi-club ownership not expected to be an issue

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is not expecting problems with UEFA
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is not expecting problems with UEFA / VALERY HACHE/GettyImages

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has refuted claims that he could give up ownership of OGC Nice amid the possibility that his investment in Manchester United is a problem under current UEFA rules.

The rules, as they are now, state: "No individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition, such control or influence," outlining a number of different examples. Those regarding shareholder power or control are unlikely to apply to Ratcliffe as a minority owner. But "being able to exercise by any means a decisive influence in the decision-making of the club" feels as though it could be applicable dependent on specific structures.

Ratcliffe's firm, INEOS of which he is co-founder and chairman but not chief executive, owns and sponsors Nice following a 2019 takeover. His buy-in with United was completed using an Isle of Man based company, Trawlers Limited, that he is sole owner of.

"There are no circumstances upon which an ownership of Nice would prevent Manchester United from playing in the Champions League. I'll be crystal clear on that," Ratcliffe said, via the Manchester Evening News, when pressed on a potential issue with UEFA.

"It says you have to change the ownership structure. So it's all about influence and positions on the board and that sort of thing. A: the rules are changing, and B: there are shades of grey not black and white. Manchester City will probably have the problem before we have the problem because they’ve obviously got Girona," he added, referencing the City Football Group.

90min reported back in November that Ratcliffe had no intention of giving up his interests in either Nice or Swiss club Lausanne and this stance hasn’t changed. The plan has never been to go fully into a multi-club model and he was receiving assurances from UEFA back then that it won't be major issue.

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UEFA are aware that without adapting regulations, as Ratcliffe has now alluded to on the record several months further on, to stop clubs from being punished, this could be something that continues to crop up as ownership groups become more common.

"We have spoken to UEFA and I have to say the conversation wasn't directed at, 'you have to solve this problem and you know we don't like it'. We have an issue and we might have to change some things," the British billionaire went on to explain.

"But what they do recognise is that the multi-club model in many circumstances benefits the smaller club quite a lot. They do have a concern that if they stop the multi-club model then you take away quite a lot from the smaller club. Because the smaller club benefits a lot from the bigger club. So that's a good thing. But what they're worried about is if there's ever an accusation that somebody influences the result of a game - lack of integrity. That's the most concerning thing."

Nice are currently third in Ligue 1 and occupy one of French’s football's Champions League qualifying places. United, meanwhile, sit sixth in the Premier League, two places outside the crucial top four.

In the past, UEFA have permitted RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg to compete in the same European competitions – even directly against each other at one stage – after being satisfied that, despite "unusually high" level of transfer activity between them and similarities in "visual identity", both were sufficiently independent operations.