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Sir Jim Ratcliffe voices concerns over Premier League's potential over-regulation

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes Manchester City have every right to challenge the Premier League's financial regulations.

City are suing the league over its associated party transaction (APT) rules, which are designed to ensure commercial deals linked to a club's ownership are done for fair market value.

Ratcliffe sympathised with City, and told Bloomberg: "I can understand why they are challenging it. You can understand why they would say that they want an open market, (a) free market."

In a wide-ranging interview, Ratcliffe:

- Described a new Premier League spending cap proposal called anchoring "absurd".

- Said Nice would be placed in trust next season to comply with UEFA rules on multi-club ownership and allow them and United to play in the Europa League.

- Admitted there was room for improvement "everywhere" at United, and that a marquee signing like Kylian Mbappe is "not the solution" at the moment.

Ratcliffe said the Premier League needed to be "careful" not to end up in "an endless legal wrangle with lots of clubs".

Everton and Nottingham Forest were docked a combined eight points for breaching the league's profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) last season, while City face a hearing in the autumn charged with 115 breaches of Premier League rules.

Ratcliffe said: "The Premier League is probably the most successful sporting league in the world, certainly the most successful football league in the world. And we have this expression in northern England: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

"If you start interfering too much, bringing too much regulation in, then you finish up with the Manchester City issue, you finish up with the Everton issue, you finish up with the Nottingham Forest issue - on and on and on.

"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. We have got the best league in the world, don't ruin that league for heaven's sake."

United voted in favour of strengthening the APT rules in February which City are now challenging, but joined the Blues in voting against a proposal called 'anchoring' which would put a cap on the amount clubs can spend on wages, transfer and agents' fees.

"(Anchoring) would inhibit the top clubs in the Premier League," Ineos co-founder Ratcliffe said.

"And the last thing you want is for the top clubs in the Premier League not to be able to compete with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG - that's absurd.

"And if it does, it then ceases to be the finest league in the world."

Ratcliffe said there had been a "drift into complexity" in the Premier League towards over-regulation since the departure of Richard Scudamore. Anchoring is set to be trialled on a shadow basis in the Premier League next season.

Ratcliffe also said an independent football regulator "won't be good" for the game.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all remain committed to a regulator in their General Election manifestos.

Ratcliffe also revealed he intends to put French side Nice, majority-owned by Ineos, in a blind trust for the coming season in order to comply with UEFA multi-club ownership rules and allow United and Nice to compete side by side in the Europa League.

UEFA revealed last month this would be an option for next season only, beyond that and shares would have to be sold in order to comply.

Ratcliffe said it was "not (Ineos') intention" to sell Nice, and spoke about how he saw the Cote d'Azur club being able to develop players for United and also utilise their position within the European Union to sign promising under-18 footballers, something United are unable to do.

Ratcliffe, who backed Britain's exit from the EU in 2016, added: "Because of Brexit it's quite difficult now to contract the younger generational talents in Europe, but Nice could do that.

"If it's a fantastic 15-year-old in France we can sign him up to Nice and use Nice as a conduit to Manchester United later on."

Ratcliffe said United had "made lots of poor decisions" over the last decade, and that a marquee signing like France star Mbappe is not the answer to the problems facing the Red Devils right now.

"Everywhere we look there's room for improvement, and we will improve everything because we want to be competing for the Premier League every year," he added.

"And I don't think the solution is buy an Mbappe.

"One player isn't going to solve the problem, you need to build a balanced squad and we need to make progress with the squad and ultimately you top it off with one or two players like Mbappe, but that's not the solution today."
 

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