Britain’s richest man could team up with Formula One great Lewis Hamilton to take over Manchester United from the Glazer family – and his ruthlessness has been on display at Nice.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has sacked Nice manager Lucien Favre after just six months in charge following an embarrassing defeat.
Favre returned for a second stint in charge of Nice in June following Christophe Galtier’s move to Paris Saint-Germain. He was sacked on Monday after overseeing a 1-0 defeat by third-tier team Le Puy in the Coupe de France.
Didier Digard has been placed in temporary charge while a permanent replacement is found. Nice is 11th in Ligue 1 with 21 points from 17 games and has not won for three matches. Nice is owned by chemicals giant Ineos, which was founded in 1998 by Britain’s richest man, Ratcliffe.
Through Ineos, he also owns the professional cycling team Ineos Grenadiers and Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing team, Ineos Team UK, as well as sponsoring the Mercedes Formula One team.
Nice is now looking for the fifth manager since Ratcliffe’s company completed its £ 88 million takeover in the summer of 2019. Favre has followed Patrick Vieira, Adrian Ursa, and Galtier in going through the revolving door on the Mediterranean coast.
According to the Forbes 2022 billionaires list, Ratcliffe is worth around £13.48bn ($16.3bn) – a fortune that makes him Britain’s wealthiest person and the 111th richest person in the world. The 70-year-old was born in Manchester and is a United supporter.
United was put up for sale by the Glazer family back in November – and previous comments from Lewis Hamilton, who knows Ratcliffe well, have sparked speculation the duo could be interested in the Premier League club. Last year, they teamed up to be a part of the consortium spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton in an unsuccessful attempt to buy Chelsea.
“Jim’s part boss but a partner – I’d say we’re more partners because we’re in this together and I hope in future to do something with Jim and build with him,” Formula One driver Hamilton said in September. “I don’t know where that will be or what that will be, so I can’t say.
“I haven’t had a call from him asking if I want to be involved in [a United takeover bid] just yet, but I do want to get more and more involved in teams because I do believe in black ownership – there is a lack of it in sports – and black equity. Again, there is a real lack of that.”
Speaking at a Financial Times event in October, before the Glazers announced their intentions to seek “strategic opportunities”, Ratcliffe explained his desire to buy a “premier club” for the Ineos brand.
“If it had been for sale in the summer, yes we would probably have had a go following on from the Chelsea thing,” he said. “But we can’t sit around hoping one day Manchester United will become available.
“So what will happen now? We have a sports franchise. We own a third of Mercedes’ Formula 1 team. Robbed last year. The one thing we don’t have is… Football is the most popular sport in the world. We should have a premier club. Nice has got a very interesting history. We’ll have a look at what we might be able to do with Nice.”