Britain’s richest man ‘offers to buy’ Chelsea from Roman Abramovich for £2BILLION after May’s visa snub to Russian oligarch amid tensions with Putin
- Jim Ratcliffe, boss of petrochemicals giant Ineos, understood to have made offer
- The 65-year-old’s offer is understood to have been rejected by the club owner
- Chelsea said its Russian owner – worth around £1.3billion – remains committed
The country’s richest man has approached Roman Abramovich to discuss buying Chelsea Football Club after the Russian billionaire’s future in Britain was thrown into doubt.
Jim Ratcliffe, 65, boss of petrochemicals giant Ineos, who is knighted today in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to business and investment, is understood to have offered about £2billion for the club.
It comes as Mr Abramovich, 51, struggles to renew his UK visa in the wake of Theresa May’s crackdown on rich Russians living in Britain after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Jim Ratcliffe, 65, boss of petrochemicals giant Ineos, who is knighted today in the Queen’s Birthday Honours
The Chelsea boss is understood to have rejected the offer with the club saying he remains dedicated to the team
The Chelsea boss was reportedly incensed at not being allowed to watch his club play in this year’s FA Cup Final on May 19 and within days he applied for and was granted Israeli citizenship.
Downing Street has made it clear that he cannot work in Britain on his Israeli passport, although he can visit for up to six months at a time.
Mr Ratcliffe topped this year’s Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated wealth of £21billion. Ineos’s annual turnover is about £45billion and it employs more than 18,500 people in 22 countries.
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‘Shelling out £2billion or so would seem like a drop in the ocean for Jim but at the moment he is torn about what to do,’ a friend said.
It is understood that Mr Abramovich has rejected the offer. Chelsea said only that its Russian owner – worth around £1.3billion – remains committed to the club, which he bought in 2003 in a deal worth £140million.
Mr Ratcliffe is a Chelsea season ticket holder – although he also supports Manchester United – and already owns a football club in Switzerland.
The country’s richest man has approached Roman Abramovich to discuss buying Chelsea Football Club
The businessman, who grew up in a council house in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, was asked recently about his education and replied: ‘I just played football, really. That’s all I was interested in.’
Seven months ago, he bought the Swiss club Lausanne-Sport for an undisclosed sum as part of his company’s commitment to local sport.
He owns a house near Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge base in South-West London. The stadium was going to be demolished and replaced but last week Mr Abramovich announced that the £1billion plans were being shelved in retaliation to the hardline attitude of the Home Office.
Mr Ratcliffe’s spokesman said: ‘We cannot comment on rumour and speculation.’
From council estate to CEO: Jim Ratcliffe was fired after just three days in his first job and isn’t proud of his A-level results but built his staggering fortune in just 20 years
Born in 1952, Jim Ratcliffe grew up in a council house on Dunkerley Avenue in Failsworth, a small town between Manchester and Oldham.
He was sent to Beverley Grammar School when his family moved to Yorkshire.
As well as being football mad, he founded the school’s industrial society during sixth form.
He got a 2:1 degree in chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham.
On his first day, he was embarrassed to see he was nearly at the bottom of a list of 99 undergraduates ranked by their A-level results.
He worked for BP during a summer holiday after graduating and was offered a job. But he was fired after just three days because his boss had seen his medical report and wasn’t keen on him working there with mild eczema.
Ratcliffe went on to work as a trainee accountant at a pharmaceuticals company before moving to Esso then Courtaulds.
In 1992 he mortgaged his house to buy BP’s chemicals division for about £40 million.
He only started his first business weeks before his 40th birthday and founded Ineos aged 45 in 1998.
During the next 20 years he built his empire.
Ratcliffe married his first wife Amanda Townson in 1985. The pair, who have two sons, divorced in 1995. He has a daughter with his second wife Alicia.
Cutting a svelte figure, he does distance running and triathlons to keep himself in shape.
Source: The Sunday Times
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