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British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe makes bid to buy French side Nice

Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe is trying to add French football club Nice to his growing sports portfolio, a spokesperson for his petrochemicals company INEOS has confirmed.

The 66-year-old businessman bought Swiss football team Lausanne in 2017, invested £110million in a British challenge for the America’s Cup with Sir Ben Ainslie last year and then last month bought cycling’s Team Sky to rebrand them as Team Ineos.

Ratcliffe, worth £21billion, is not finished there, though, as he is understood to have made a bid for the Ligue 1 side in February.

That offer, believed to be £77million, was rebuffed by Nice’s owner Chien Lee, the Chinese-American investor who also owns League One’s Barnsley.

But, according to a report by local newspaper Nice-Matin, Ratcliffe is not giving up and sent his brother Robert Ratcliffe to the south of France on Thursday to discuss his plans for the club with the city’s mayor Christian Estrosi.

In a statement issued to Press Association Sport, an Ineos spokesperson said: “Ineos confirms that it has expressed an interest in the club and has had exploratory discussions but can say nothing more at this stage.”

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Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira is now the coach at Nice (David Davies, PA)

Managed by former Arsenal and Manchester City star Patrick Vieira, Nice are currently eighth in Ligue 1, the same position they finished last season, but they came third in 2016/17 and Lee believes they are worth closer to £100million.

Ratcliffe, who was knighted in 2018, is understood to have first approached the club in November, shortly after he moved to nearby Monaco for tax-related reasons.

He is actually a Manchester United fan but has been linked with a bid for Chelsea, where he has had a season ticket.