Sir Jim Ratcliffe confirms Manchester United blocked from signing transfer target by Uefa

Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes that UEFA rules on multi-club ownership are unfair and have prevented Manchester United from signing Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo.

The French side are owned by Ratcliffe’s INEOS, who bought a 27.7 per cent stake in United six months ago.

The Red Devils had long-standing interest in Todibo, 24, but are now unlikely to sign him due to guidance issued last month warning clubs subject to multi-club ownership against trading players with each other. United and Nice have both qualified for the Europa League next season.

UEFA’s rulebook states that no individual or legal entity can have “control or influence” over more than one club participating in a UEFA competition. UEFA needed to be satisfied that United and Nice are separate entities before admitting them into the Europa League.

European football’s governing body say next season will be treated as a trial campaign over multi-club ownership, with both sides allowed to compete, but insist rules may be less lenient in future seasons.

Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, Ratcliffe, United’s head of football operations, said on Thursday: “They [UEFA] have said we [Nice] can sell him to another Premiership club, but we can’t sell to Manchester United. But that’s not fair on the player, and I don’t see what that achieves.”

Todibo, who has two senior international caps for France, is under contract at Nice until 2027.

Criticism: Sir Jim Ratcliffe feels that UEFA’s current rules on multi-club ownership are unfair (Nick Potts/PA Wire)
Criticism: Sir Jim Ratcliffe feels that UEFA’s current rules on multi-club ownership are unfair (Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Meanwhile, Ratcliffe also revealed that United aspire to “be where Real Madrid are today”. United decided to keep Erik ten Hag on during this month's end-of-season review, and Ratcliffe feels the managerial position is “not a central issue” at the club.

Ratcliffe purchased his minority stake in United midway through last season, when the club finished in their lowest-ever Premier League position of eighth, but lifted the FA Cup by beating rivals Manchester City at Wembley.

“There's room for improvement everywhere we look at Manchester United, and we will improve everything,” he said.

Ratcliffe warned against the overregulation of England’s top-flight, saying a government regulator “won’t be good” for the league.

He added: “We’ve got more accountants than sporting people at Manchester United. If you’re not careful, the Premier League is going to finish up spending more time in court than it is thinking about what’s good for the league.”