Britain's richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe has purchased cycling's Team Sky, which has Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome on their roster. The team will be renamed 'Team Ineos', the company where Ratcliffe has amassed most of his £21Bn fortune.
Discussions between Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford, the team Principal, have been ongoing for some time, following the announcement in December 2018 that Sky would no longer be pumping the £35m required to keep the team going.
Team Sky have become the dominant force in professional cycling, winning six of the last seven Tour de France's (all with British riders) as well as host of other significant races, including the Vuelta Espana, Giro D'Italia and Criterium du Dauphine. However, a controversial shadow has followed them wherever they have gone, and that will certainly not go away with the name change. Accusations of doping have been a recurring theme throughout all of their races and victories, making them a love-hate team on the international circuit.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe began as a chemical engineer, but soon started working in the financial services sector. In 1998, he founded Ineos, which has gone on to become one of the largest chemicals manufacturers in Britain. He has become something of a controversial figure, moving his business to Switzerland temporarily for tax reasons, and being an ardent, vocal supporter of Brexit.
As his career has progressed, and his wealth expanded, Ratcliffe has slowly started to amass a collection of sporting outfits. Last year, he invested £110m in 'Ineos Team UK', an America's Cup Sailing team, which features the record-breaking Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie. A year before, he purchased FC Lausanne-Sport, A Swiss football team.
Many have viewed the purchased of FC Lausanne-Sport as a trial run or springboard for the purchase of a much bigger side in England. Ratcliffe was born and bred in Manchester as a United fan, but has a season ticket at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge. With Roman Abramovich now living in Israel, after a breakdown in relations between Britain and Russia, he is allowed very little time in the country each year.
Whether Ratcliffe will splash out even more to buy the west-London club remains to be seen. Chelsea officials say that the club isn't for sale, but with so much uncertainty surrounding Abramovich and the impending transfer ban the club face, a deal could well be agreed.
Although Cycling and Sailing are minority sports, Sir Jim Ratcliffe's actions are not something we see too often in the UK. Rich businessmen buying different clubs across different sports has always seemed to be an American phenomenon. Ratcliffe could well be the man who starts to change this.