August 27, 2019
Bob Ratcliffe: 'A 3 to 5-Year Project'
On Tuesday, following the official acquisition of OGC Nice by INEOS, Bob Ratcliffe held his first press conference at Allianz Riviera. The president of INEOS Football outlined plans for Les Rouge et Noir:
We’re very excited about the project ahead of us. It’s been quite some journey for us to get to this point. At some points along the journey, I think some of us were quite worried that we wouldn’t get here in time for the transfer window, but we made it. Nice are a fantastic club. Obviously we already knew Nice, but we started to look at the rest of the league and the quality of the French league. The club has real supporters, real fans and it’s a real community club as well and it’s great to see families going, children going and that’s hugely important to us and it has a great history as well. There aren’t many clubs on the Mediterranean so that is hugely attractive. If you grew up in the north of England like me it’s very nice to watch football in warm weather. INEOS is a company that was formed 20 years ago and it started with 200 million in revenues and now it’s got 60 billion in revenues.
It’s the 50th largest company in the world. So that’s quite an achievement, but it’s been achieved through careful planning, focus, pushing people, teamwork - and that’s exactly the approach we’ll be taking with Nice. We will have a three to five-year plan to become a regular in Europe and to stay there. It’s quite a challenging project. We don’t know the people in Nice too well, but the people we did meet were absolutely fantastic, very good at what they do and they are also fans and that was very important to us. We want to do establish excellence in all sporting areas: in coaching, youth development, academies, scouting, data, and all the individual pieces that make you great on the sporting side. And we won’t achieve success just by spending money, that’s the last thing we will do. INEOS is founded on finding value and building efficiency and building better businesses and it will be exactly the same approach here.
We can confirm that INEOS is the 100% owner of the club however we do not disclose acquisition prices.
Our ambition is to compete for the top four places in Ligue 1. There is PSG which are a fantastic club with some fantastic players and having clubs like PSG are so important because they shine a light on the French league. We feel the French league is undervalued in terms of the profile it has compared to the Premiership, the Bundesliga, the Spanish league. You also have great clubs in Lyon, and I shouldn’t say it but Marseille, a near-neighbour, clubs with great history, and we see them all as competitors.
Our target will to be in the Champions League in between three to five seasons. We’re not saying this season, we’re not saying tomorrow. And we would like to see four French clubs qualifying for the Champions League. If Italy has that, England has that, Germany, Spain, why not France, with its heritage and its World Cups?
When INEOS acquires a business it analyses the resources it has got and make some decisions quickly, but the key point for us is: if you are going to achieve excellence, you need excellent people. I have met former general manager Julien Fournier and former president Jean-Pierre Riviere, in terms of what they did for OGCN from 2011 was very impressive. Now we need to make our assessments and make decisions quite quickly.
No announcements today. We will hope to have some announcements on the coming days, for the remaining days of the transfer window. It has been a difficult transfer window for us given the situation, but we do have a little of the window left so we would hope to utilise that.
If we’re going to be successful in this project I think its hugely important that we invest in youth and younger players, pre-eminence in scouting, pre-eminence in data is very important. I don’t think we’ll go and buy a 27 year old or a 28 year old. It’s a lower price but a higher degree of risk, but if we do our homework properly, then they can learn to play together, the right mentality, the right team mentality. I was here last week and I spent three hours with Dante. There’s the example of someone who came here from Brazil when he was 20. Moved to Northern France, developed his career, speaks four languages, trains when he’s on vacation. He’s exemplary and I think that’s massively important to young players, to have those role models.
We will look at the resources we have in the club and think what we will need to invest now, and next year and year after to get to our objective and where we can get value. But we will not get there purely by spending money. The revenues of the club are just over 50 million and we think we can push those forward. With the new broadcast deal they will move up anyway but we must, that’s why the commercial aspect is so important for us. And once we reach our target of Champions League, the Financial Fair Play becomes a big focus of your life and there will be limitations anyway which is why we need to hit sporting points and we need to hit commercial points as well.
I have had a lot of discussions with Patrick Vieira. He is a key element of our project. What is particularly important to us was the way he works with young players and we come back to that earlier point: we want to invest in really top quality young players. My brother has met him, my brother’s partners have met him and we’re very positive about Patrick and we will try to support him.
The relationship with Lausanne
That’s something we have to look at more closely. Lausanne is a very important club in Switzerland in its own right, it’s very early in the season, but we’re top of the league, we’d like to get them promoted, we moving to a new stadium in May next year, so it’s a fantastic opportunity.
If you look at Switzerland, its academy system is actually really good. Nobody that plays for the Switzerland national team actually play in Switzerland so there is some element that’ it’s a pass through league, but I think the academy approach and the approach to coaching is something we need to look at. Who has the best academy in the world? We need to look at that and in our search for excellence. We had a really good player at Lausanne this year and I met him and the family as you do and he wanted to move to Red Bull Salzburg and he went to Red Bull for a high price, but we didn’t want to lose him and I actually said to the parents: If we had acquired Nice, would that make you rethink in terms of us providing stepping stone and he said Yes, undoubtedly. They are both French speaking clubs which is good.