BRITAIN’S richest man decided against buying Chelsea because the stadium problems would take too long to resolve.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe was looking for his INEOS group to move into football and seizing control at Stamford Bridge was a serious option.
The group held preliminary talks with Chelsea bosses about buying Roman Abramovich’s stake in the London club.
But Ratcliffe’s brother Bob, who runs the football division of INEOS, says fears over redeveloping the stadium proved too big to overcome.
Ratcliffe told BBC Five Live: “There was some early exchange but we were a significant way apart on valuations.
“The issue with Chelsea is its stadium. We are all getting older and it is a decade of your life to resolve that.”
Chelsea have looked at options to move away from Stamford Bridge but there is always a major problem with the Chelsea Pitch Owners, who own the freehold to the stadium.
And the planned £1billion redevelopment of the ground has now been put on hold with Abramovich citing the wrong economic climate.
The result is that Chelsea are at a major disadvantage against their top six rivals in the Premier League when it comes to ground standard and capacity.
Having rejected Chelsea, INEOS went on to look at other potential clubs in the Premier League – but the high valuations of them all, including Mike Ashley’s £350m demand for Newcastle, put them off.
They have instead relocated to France where they have taken control of Nice.
Bob Ratcliffe added: “We spent quite a lot of time looking at Premier League clubs and their valuations
“It was difficult to rationalise purchases in the Premier League for us. If you look below the top six, they are all £150m and above.
“You are going to write a cheque for £50m and get in the Everton cup. Where are you going to go?
“You look at Newcastle, and we looked at a lot of clubs. You come back to a valuation in the hundreds of millions and it is difficult to contemplate.
“I think the foreseeable future it is off the radar. We have a three to five year project in Nice and that will keep us busy.”