OGC Nice was taken over recently for £88.8m by INEOS, which was founded by English billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe. His brother Bob is the chief executive of INEOS Football and made some comments which have been published in the Daily Mail about the company’s pursuit of a Premier League football club.
This is the rationale Bob gave about why the company decided to look elsewhere for a football club to purchase:
“We’d obviously been looking at Premiership clubs as well. We spent quite a lot of time looking at Premier League clubs.
“We looked at the valuation of Premiership clubs and £5billion in revenues for the Premier League and top six clubs being valued at £2bn and upwards, and £450m of net profit before tax.
“(It’s) pretty difficult to rationalise purchases in the Premier League at this time for us and then, if you look below the top six, they’re all £150m and above and you’re going to write a cheque for £50m and get in the ‘Everton Cup'”
It looks like INEOS decided it was not worth buying a Premier League club as they felt there was not enough value in the purchase. While a top-six club would cost in the billions, the other clubs cannot compete, so they saw little sense in paying hundreds of millions on a club that can only challenge for the seventh or eighth year in and out.
Bob Ratcliffe did have preliminary talks with Chelsea. However, they were just in the early stages when it became clear a deal was not possible:
“No. There was some exchange, but we were a long way apart on valuation. I can’t recollect how far it was, but it was significant.
“It was early exchanges, and the issue with Chelsea as well is that it’s got a stadium issue and we’re all getting older, and that’s a decade of your life to resolve that.”
Finally, in what some can only see as cruel, Ratcliffe mentioned Newcastle as being a club suggested to INEOS:
“In fairness you look at Newcastle, and we looked at a lot of clubs in the Premiership, after the sort of noise around Chelsea, people talked to us about a high proportion of clubs.
“Obviously people talked to us about Newcastle as well. But again you come back to a valuation in the hundreds of millions, and it’s very difficult to contemplate.”
Well to be fair, we don’t think Newcastle’s valuation at £250-350m is where the difficulty lies. Though that “reportedly” has been the issue with the last three potential takeovers.
The difficulty will be with the terms that have to be met for a sale to happen. The valuation will just be a step in the process. A deal is going to have to tick every conceivable box that Ashley stipulates. He will only sell if he gets everything that he wants.
The club has continued to claim that Ashley is a willing seller. However, if he sets conditions that are highly unlikely to be agreed to, then Newcastle are for all intents just not for sale.