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Ineos expands sporting empire with New Zealand All Blacks deal

Joe Robinson
28 Jul 2021

Another big name in professional sport signs up with Ratcliffe's empire in move criticised by environmental campaigners

Billionaire owner of the Ineos Grenadiers, Jim Ratcliffe, has expanded his net over professional sport once more, this time by signing a six-year deal with New Zealand Rugby to sponsor the world-famous All Blacks.

Petrochemical company Ineos will become official performance partners of NZ Rugby and its seven national rugby union teams, which will join the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Ineos America's Cup UK sailing team and football clubs OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport in Ratcliffe's sporting empire.

The financial committments of the new deal with the All Blacks are unknown although it has been confirmed the partnership will see the Ineos logo appear on the playing shorts. 

In a statement on the new deal, Ratcliffe said this partnership with the All Blacks could help development across Ineos's existing teams.

'They have consistently shown the grit and determination needed to perform at the highest level of sport and there will be a lot that we can learn from them.'

Like when Ineos began its sponsorship with the British WorldTour cycling team, this latest deal with NZ Rugby has been subject to staunch criticism from enviromental groups who have claimed Ratcliffe's involvement with professional sport is an attempt to 'greenwash' the petrochemical companies reputation.

After Ineos agreed to become title sponsor of the men's cycling team in 2019, protesters attended the Tour de Yorkshire to voice their concerns over the company's involvement in cycling.

Last month, Greenpeace attempted to block this new deal between New Zealand and Ineos belieivng it contradicted the country's 'green values'.

'In the thick of the climate crisis, it’s gutting to see NZ Rugby sign a sponsorship deal with an oil and gas polluting conglomerate like Ineos that is responsible for driving us deeper into the climate crisis, and fouling the oceans with plastic pollution,' said Greenpeace's Juressa Lee at the time.

'Oil companies like Ineos know that their time has come and that the world is turning away from fossil fuels and plastic. They are desperate to associate themselves with popular brands like the All Blacks and with New Zealand’s good name, but we shouldn’t let them get away with it.'

In response to the criticism, chief executive of New Zealand Rugby Mark Robinson played down the environmental concerns and highlighted the opportunities that could arise from the partnership. 

'Ineos will bring an innovative approach and dedication to the partnership with our Teams in Black, qualities we see across all aspects of their business, particularly around sustainability with their commitment to deliver a zero-carbon emission future in line with the Paris Agreement.'

In the wake of this deal, it is worth noting that the three-time rugby World Cup champions were considering selling a majority share of the team to private equity firms earlier in the year to alleviate major financial issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.