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Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe linked with buying Chelsea

A petrochemicals engineer worth £21 billion is exploring the possibility of buying Chelsea, but could yet be deterred by the enormous asking price.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, is set to complete the takeover of cycling group Team Sky today, invested £110 million in sailing outfit Ineos Team UK last year, and is now said to be looking at a takeover of the west London club. Today’s Times reports that Ratcliffe, who also owns Swiss club FC Lausanne-Sport, is prepared to make a formal bid for the Blues.

Current owner Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140 million in 2003, and has since invested £1.17 billion pounds in the team, but has not been seen at Stamford Bridge this season, increasing speculation that he is losing interest in the club.

While Chelsea claim the club is not for sale, the failure to secure planning permission for a new stadium, plus the UK’s deteriorating relationship with Russia – Abramovich’s home country – has heightened belief that the owner is looking for a way out.

However, the asking price – believed to be £2.5 billion – could still put off the richest British person.

Last year, Forbes magazine valued Chelsea at £1.44 billion, and the club faces the prospect of a second consecutive season outside of the Champions League, a UEFA-imposed transfer ban and a stadium redevelopment that could cost £1 billion.

Ratcliffe, who now resides in Monaco, reportedly grew up supporting Manchester United but now holds a Chelsea season ticket.