Nice (France) (AFP) – The new British owners of French club Nice have a measured “three to five-year” plan to become regulars in Europe, Bob Ratcliffe, the brother of billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, revealed on Tuesday.
“Our target will be to be in the Champions League in a three to five-year period — we are not saying this season, we are not saying tomorrow because I think to do that is short-term and I’m not sure you can sustain it,” said Bob Ratcliffe, the president of Ineos Football.
Jim Ratcliffe is the chairman of petrochemicals group Ineos who already own Swiss club Lausanne-Sport among their other sporting ventures. Earlier this year they bought the Sky cycling team and rebranded it Team Ineos.
Despite Ratcliffe’s huge wealth — he was third on the latest Sunday Times UK ‘rich list’ with a £18.664 billion ($23 billion) fortune — his brother preached a sensible approach at a club who finished seventh in France’s Ligue 1 last season.
“We want to put the club on a sustainable basis where it is competing regularly in European football competitions, so quite a challenging project, we don’t underestimate the other teams in the league,” he said.
The French football landscape is dominated by Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain, who have won six of the last seven Ligue 1 titles.
The only club to break their recent hegemony was Monaco, Nice’s near neighbours, in 2017. Ratcliffe, a Brexit backer, is based in Monaco.
“Our ambition is to compete for the top four places in Ligue 1. Having clubs like Paris Saint-Germain is so important because it shines the spotlight on the French league and we do think the French league is undervalued,” Bob Ratcliffe, an avowed Chelsea supporter, added.
“Our intent is to be a competitor of PSG, Lyon, the other clubs in France and we do not underestimate it is a significant challenge.”
Nice have won their opening two league games of the season under former France star Patrick Vieira, but the club have not won a major trophy since 1997.
Supporters will be hoping to see new signings arrive at their Allianz Riviera stadium before the European transfer window closes on September 2.
Danish striker Kasper Dolberg, 21, has been strongly linked with a move from Dutch champions Ajax, but the new owners insisted there will be no huge spending spree in the coming days.
“We won’t achieve success just by spending money. That is the last thing we will do. We won’t rush to spend money on players,” Bob Ratcliffe added.