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English billionaire Ratcliffe’s Ineos completes Nice takeover

Nice, France: Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos completed its protracted takeover of Nice on Monday with the English petrochemical billionaire pledging investment to establish the club as regular challengers in Ligue 1 and Europe.

With this latest purchase 66-year-old Ratcliffe adds to a sports portfolio that already includes the former Sky cycling team and Swiss club Lausanne-Sport.

Ineos was given the all-clear to seal the reported 100 million euro (($112 million) deal with Nice's Sino-American owners by the French Competition Authority last week.

"It has been quite a long journey getting here, but it is unique, and we were determined to complete the purchase of the club," Ratcliffe, a Brexit backer based in Monaco, told the club's website.

"We have looked at a lot of clubs in the manner we look at businesses in INEOS — for value and potential — and Nice fulfils that criteria. 

"With some sensible, measured investment, we want to establish Nice as a team that competes in European club competition on a regular basis. And importantly, sustain it."

Beyond Ratcliffe's own motivations, Nice are a club with great potential, based on the sun-soaked Cote d'Azur and with a modern 36,000-seat stadium. On-field performances have already improved in recent years, peaking with a third-place finish in 2017.

Ratcliffe will get a chance to see his new acquisition — founded in 1904 — in action for the first time against Marseille on Wednesday.

Under former France star Patrick Vieira, a young side have started this season with two wins from two.

Nice's flying start to the new season has been achieved despite no senior signings arriving.

"The takeover has maybe taken longer than expected. It has been difficult to make signings," complained Vieira recently.

That could all be about to change with the European transfer window not closing until Monday. 

Ratcliffe in his statement added: "Clubs need to be successful off the pitch, as well as on it, and OGC Nice will be no different, as we look to take the club from strength to strength in all aspects over the coming years."

He said he and Ineos were fast learners.

"We made some mistakes at Lausanne…but these have been rectified and we are already seeing the benefits." 

With his investment in cycling paying immediate dividends with Ineos' brilliant young Colombian Egan Bernal winning the Tour de France Ratcliffe noted: "it is also fantastic that the Tour de France starts in Nice next year".

According to reports Ratcliffe, third in the latest Sunday Times 'rich list' with an £18.664 billion fortune, took over the keys to the Allianz Riviera Stadium from Chien Lee, Alex Zheng and Paul Conway, owners since 2016. 

Ratcliffe's brother Robert is scheduled to give a press conference on Tuesday.

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