Home Penny blacks Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a local boy made good – and Manchester United’s potential savior

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a local boy made good – and Manchester United’s potential savior


Ratcliffe told the Telegraph after that first sporting investment that he only went to meet Ainslie for a drink. “The most expensive gin and tonic of my life,” he joked. He has bought a few rounds since then.

Ineos’ extraordinary sporting land grab in recent years – along with his sailing team, Ratcliffe has aspired Team Sky, Nice, sponsored Eliud Kipchoge’s under 2 hour marathon challenge, the All Blacks, and bought a stake in Mercedes F1 – was compared to that of Red Bull, another billion-dollar private multinational with a huge sports portfolio.

Ratcliffe is a serious player and a potential savior

Ratcliffe’s reasons for investing in all of these properties are less easily understood, however. Red Bull is a consumer brand. It sells billions of cans of energy drinks every year. She wants visibility and brand recognition; hence his investment in F1 and extreme sports. Nobody “buys” Ineos.

In fact, Ratcliffe flatly denied that brand recognition was about him in an interview with this newspaper in August 2018. He’s changed his tune a bit on that since then. There are now a few brands owned by Ineos, including the Grenadier 4×4 vehicle in which his company invested £1billion, and the clothing company Belstaff, now run by former Ineos Grenadiers CEO Fran Millar. But that still doesn’t seem to be the main reason.

It’s not about making a profit either. None of these teams or sponsors are necessarily big investments.

Then what ? A desire to use sport to soften the image of the company is clearly part of this. Ineos has been accused of “greenwashing” when it got into sailing and cycling. And it’s true that the company has taken advantage of its various sports partnerships to highlight its work in the fight against pollution or research into biodegradable plastic. Or to trumpet his Daily Mile, an initiative that encourages primary schools and nurseries to take children outside for a 15-minute run every day.

The son of a carpenter and clerk who grew up in a Greater Manchester housing estate, Ratcliffe is a proud and unapologetic industrialist and engineer. A self-made billionaire. And a man who now devotes himself to his passions.

Ratcliffe is also an avowed sports junkie. He ran marathons, traveled the two poles and crossed South Africa on a motorcycle. He is busy building one of the biggest portfolios in world sport, with Sir Dave Brailsford leading him as director of sport (again Ratcliffe cared little for public opinion when he chose to s stick to the embattled sports supremo).

Could Ratcliffe, given his age, now just want to spend his money returning to the North West and bringing back the glory days at United? Too bad for their fans, it seems so. He certainly, undeniably, has the wherewithal to do it if the Glazers sell. He is a serious player and a potential savior.

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