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Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, has been linked with a takeover of Chelsea in the past but only last month a spokesperson dismissed reports he could succeed Roman Abramovich.
The race to buy the club following the sanctioning of Russian billionaire Abramovich had been whittled down to three contenders, with consortiums headed by former Liverpool chairman Sir Michael Broughton, LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and Steve Pagliuca, who co-owns the Boston Celtics, left in the running after a fourth prospective owner - the Ricketts family - pulled out.
The process had been nearing its conclusion, with a preferred buyer due to be announced but 69-year-old Ratcliffe revealed to The Times that he had submitted a late offer to US merchant bank Raine Group - who are overseeing the sale - on Friday morning worth more than £4billion, having held talks with Blues chairman Bruce Buck yesterday.
An Ineos statement confirmed: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, has made a formal bid for Chelsea FC, for £4.25bn. £2.5bn is committed to the Charitable Trust to support victims of the war, with £1.75bn committed to investment directly into the club over the next 10 years.
“This is a British bid, for a British club. We believe that a club is bigger than its owners who are temporary custodians of a great tradition. With responsibility to the fans and the community. That is why we are committing to spending £1.75bn over 10 years that will be for the direct benefit of the club. We will invest in Stamford Bridge to make it a world-class stadium, befitting of Chelsea FC. This will be organic and on-going so that we will not move away from the home of Chelsea and risk losing the support of loyal fans.”
Ratcliffe already has significant experience in sport, currently the owner of Ligue 1 side OGC Nice and Tour de France-winning cycling team Ineos Grenadiers.
Ineos are also principal sponsors of Formula One world champions Mercedes and sailing’s Ineos Team UK.
Their statement continued: “We will continue to invest in the team to ensure we have a first class squad of the world’s greatest players, coaches and support staff, in the men’s and women’s games.
“And we hope to continue to invest in the academy to provide opportunity for talented youngsters to develop into first class players. We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club.
“We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses. The club is rooted in its community and its fans. And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea FC for that reason.”