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(Bloomberg) -- Ineos, the Anglo-Swiss chemical company that recently bought the fashion brand Belstaff, is adding a soccer club.
Although Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe is a fan of the English Premier League stalwart Manchester United, he set his sights a little lower for his foray into team ownership. Ineos is buying Lausanne Football Club, which plays in front of crowds of 5,000 or so at a stadium that is 30 minutes’ drive from the company’s offices in Switzerland. The price paid to owner Alain Joseph wasn’t disclosed.
Lausanne plays in the Swiss Super League, the country’s top league. Ineos hopes the team can start to qualify for prestigious Europe-wide events, said Joseph Wade, an Ineos spokesman. That would require winning the Swiss competition, for the top-tier Champions League, or finishing near the top for the second-level Europa League.
“That will take a lot of time and investment,” said Robin Fasel, a Swiss-based freelance soccer writer. “Lausanne is not a football city.” The team finished ninth of 10 teams in the Swiss league last season and hasn’t won it since 1965.
Sports and physical fitness run deep in the culture of Ineos, which already invests in youth soccer in its Swiss region and is planning to open academies for the sport in Botswana and Namibia. The company’s charity arm also sponsors Run for Fun, which aims to get 5-to-10-year-old schoolchildren into running, and a program in schools called the Daily Mile.
Ineos, which operates an ambitious shale-gas arm, recently has been in court against antifracking campaigners in the U.K. who are trying to overturn a broad injunction against protesters. The judge has reserved judgment on the case.
Ineos is also seeking U.K. government support for the production of a new 4x4 vehicle modeled on Land Rover’s classic Defender.
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