Are INEOS a successful sporting organisation?

A global conglomerate group backed by the former richest man in Britain, what could possibly go wrong?

INEOS is a chemical company which comprises 36 businesses in 29 countries around the world.

They’re owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has a keen interest in sport and has diversified the businesses portfolio to begin ventures into football, rugby, F1, cycling and sailing.

INEOS have built up an elite reputation in the business industry which has made moving into the sporting world, that little bit easier.

With the likes of Sir David Brailsford and Jean Claude Blanc, both world class operators, as just two names heading up INEOS’ sporting aspirations, their intent is undoubtable.

Thus, when you think of INEOS, you’re quick to associate them with success, but have they actually been successful as a sporting organisation?

INEOS’ purchase of FC Lausanne-Sport

In 2017, Ratcliffe made his first move in the footballing world by acquiring Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport.

In the years before this takeover, Lausanne had been a yo-yo team between the top and second division in Switzerland.

They were never able to cement themselves as a regular first division side.

Now with the backing of a hugely successful organisation like INEOS, you’d think this would lead to greater investment and a way for Lausanne to become a certified top side in Switzerland.

But it hasn’t.

The Swiss side were relegated back to the second division, finishing rock bottom in their first season under INEOS.

It took two more years before Lausanne were finally able to get promoted again in the 2019/20 season, topping the table.

In that year, Ratcliffe’s brother, Bob, became club president.

The following year was even more successful, with Lausanne finishing sixth and avoiding relegation.

It finally appeared that INEOS’ ownership was having some effect.

However, hopes were dashed again when Lausanne finished bottom, 18 points off Luzern, who finished just one place above them.

After promotion in 2022/23, Lausanne look to be heading towards safety despite sitting in the ‘relegation group’.

They are 10 points above the drop with just five games left.

So, since INEOS acquired Lausanne, have they been any better?


Has their acquisition of the Swiss club been a success?


INEOS’ takeover of Nice

It could be argued that with the lack of pedigree and reputation of Lausanne, putting excess resources into that club would be bizarre.

Nice, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have the same history.

They were dominant in the French top division in the 1950’s, winning four league titles and two French Cup’s.

Therefore, Nice are no small club.

In the years prior to the INEOS takeover, Nice had qualified for the Champions League group stages twice.

Granted, this was in 2015/16 and 2016/17, and in the two seasons after this they finished seventh and eighth.

Subsequently, INEOS were coming into a team that with the right investment, could quickly become a Champions League side again.

In their first year under INEOS reign, Nice finished in a promising fifth position, just missing out on Champions League but securing Europa League.

However, the following year, poor form saw Patrick Vieira sacked with the club sitting in 11th and eliminated from the Europa League.

His assistant Adrian Ursea took over and could only guide Nice to ninth in the table.

In 2021/22 Nice finished fifth again.

However, Nice’s inconsistency struck again with them finishing ninth the following year.

In 2023/24, with three games to go Nice sit fifth, four points off fourth placed LOSC Lille.

It’s seemingly another year where Nice miss out on Champions League qualification.

nice historical performance last 20 years chart

Graph via Transfermarkt

So, have INEOS improved Nice?


Is this takeover a success so far?


Chaos behind the scenes

It would be unjust to judge Nice without discussing the chaos behind the scenes under INEOS’ leadership.

It began with manager Christoph Galtier and transfer specialist Julien Fournier having a bad falling out over the handling of Ramadan.

This was ongoing while Brailsford, INEOS’ director of sport, was conducting an audit at the club.

He deemed that Bob Ratcliffe, who was CEO at the time and Fournier were to be removed.

However, the problems didn’t end there.

Before his exit in the summer of 2022, Galtier was openly critical about the clubs recruitment and was ‘concerned about INEOS’ commitment’, with him reportedly ‘losing faith’ in the owners before he left.

Ian Moody, former Cardiff City and Crystal Palace director, was brought in to sort recruitment, but his experienced Premier League approach was unsuccessful with signings like Aaron Ramsey, Ross Barkley and Kasper Schmeichel failing to have the desired impact.

Florent Ghisolfi, the brains behind the recruitment excellence at Lens, has been brought in as sporting director.

So, it remains to be seen how that decision will affect life behind the scenes at Nice, but what is clear, is the consistent failures in recruitment that INEOS have made at the French club.

Leaving the buy cheap and sell high method behind, to move to a more luxurious lifestyle of splashing cash, has still yet to blossom for Nice and INEOS.

By the summer of 2023, in the three seasons prior, Nice sat third in net transfer expenditure with 77.27m euros.

INEOS can’t be doubted on their willingness to invest, however, issues revolve around who they’ve placed in charge to spend that money on and the players that are subsequently brought in.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it…

With huge similarities to the Glazer reign, INEOS have made many mistakes in running Nice and are yet to see any huge progress since their arrival.

Thus, in football, INEOS have failed to make their mark and this leaves clear warning bells for Manchester United fans about their new co-owners.

Team Sky to INEOS Grenadiers – the fall from grace?

Upon INEOS’ purchase of Team Sky in 2019, the British cycling team had won seven of the previous eight Tour de France’s.

But four years on and the British cycling team are just a shade of the dominant side they once were.

The Grenadiers haven’t won a Grand Tour since Egan Bernal won the 2021 Giro d’Italia.

Coincidentally or not, with the takeover, Brailsford became director of sport at INEOS as well as team principal for the Grenadiers.

Since INEOS’ takeover, it’s clear to see that the British cycling team have declined.

This could be down to a number of factors however, like the ageing of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, as well as failing to secure a general classification powerhouse to compete with Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar.

Ultimately, the Grenadiers are yet another example of a sports team which has failed to improve under INEOS reign…

What does this all mean for Manchester United?

Warning bells should certainly be ringing.

A worrying lack of sporting success for an organisation attempting to complete the rebuild of all rebuilds at United.

The most concerning element for United fans will be the distinct similarities to the Glazer family’s approach to running the club.

Poor structural organisation behind the scenes at Nice poses a real fear that INEOS don’t know how to run an elite sporting organisation.

However, since becoming a co-owner, Ratcliffe has looked to bring in the very best people in the business to improve United’s structure and so this maybe an indication of him learning.

Names like Omar Berrada, Jason Wilcox and Blanc to name a few.

In addition, Ratcliffe has admit mistake in INEOS’ ownership of Nice and Lausanne, so feels this will benefit him at United.

Thus, right now, INEOS don’t have the pedigree to label themselves as an elite sporting organisation, but with the competitive and strong mindset of boyhood United fan Ratcliffe and his team behind him, they could make United their first sporting success story.