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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Manchester United minority owner INEOS looking to sell sister club Nice

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Manchester United minority owner INEOS are looking to sell Nice, amid expectations that the two clubs will be given a one-season transition by Uefa to compete in the Europa League this season. Another factor is that Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to focus on United, having achieved a lifetime ambition by becoming involved with his boyhood club. One problem is that French football is currently in financial disarray, due to Ligue 1 failing to secure a broadcast partner for next season, but Nice are seen as a distinctive case due to the attractive location.

Moves are at an early stage but a number of sources state that INEOS are open to selling the French club. Ratcliffe’s group completed takeover of 27.7% of United earlier this year, having bought Nice in 2019. They are currently facing their first complications from such multi-ownership, with both teams having qualified for the 2024-25 Europa League. Uefa are currently facing immense challenges from the spread of multi-club ownership across the world, and still attempting to navigate rulings on how such connections should work.

The temporary fix expected for next season is that Nice are placed in a “blind trust”, which is what was used last season to get around Red Bird Capital’s ownership of AC Milan and Toulouse. That is seen as just a one-season measure, though, with Uefa set to warn that rules will be much more stringent in 2025-26.

It is amid this context that INEOS are open to selling Nice. A huge complicating factor is the collapse of Ligue 1’s domestic TV market, with as yet no broadcaster agreed. Forecasts have fallen from potentially €1bn deals to a mere €500m. The situation remains unresolved with concerns over how quickly a new agreement can be set up.

Other takeover plans have stalled, with clubs already downgrading revenue expectations. An alternate view to that is it could be an opportune moment to buy a club with huge potential, in a hugely attractive location on the south coast of France. INEOS also own Swiss club Lausanne-Sport, but they have not qualified for Europe.

INEOS have been contacted for comment.

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