A consortium led by Chicago Cubs owner Thomas Ricketts will submit a formal offer for Chelsea, a spokesman has confirmed.
The deadline for bids was pushed back three days to Friday due to the uncertainty caused by last week’s announcement that the U.K government was sanctioning Blues owner Roman Abramovich as one of seven Russian oligarchs with alleged close ties to Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chelsea are a frozen asset of Abramovich’s, only able to continue paying staff and fulfilling fixtures due to a special government licence.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has since indicated that licence would likely extend to granting a sale of the club were an application to be made. A preferred bidder has to be identified first. The Ricketts family have teamed up with billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel LLC, and declared their intention to enter the running.
“The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, can confirm they will be leading an investment group that will make a formal bid for Chelsea Football Club this Friday,” a spokesman said.
“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts Family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.
“We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course.”
Other bidders at this stage include a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers and L.A. Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly alongside Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, while British property tycoon Nick Candy has publicly stated he plans to make an offer before Friday’s deadline.
The Saudi Media Group have also reportedly made a £2.7 billion bid.
Abramovich valued the club at around £3bn, but sources claim he is unlikely to receive that figure given the circumstances around the sale, although an auction among interested parties would drive up the price.
Chelsea’s need for a quick sale is underlined by the impact sanctions are already having on the club. The megastore at Stamford Bridge is closed, the on-site hotel cannot take any more bookings until further notice and tickets for upcoming matches cannot be sold — leading to Tuesday’s farce in which the club asked for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors on grounds of “sporting integrity.”
A backlash led to the withdrawal of their request within hours, but Chelsea are continuing talks with the government to ease the terms of the licence under which they can operate.
Wednesday’s Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash in Lille is unaffected as travel — now capped at £20,000 per game — and tickets sales to fans were finalised before the U.K. government sanctioned Abramovich on Thursday.
However, UEFA had to seek clarification from the European Union that the fixture could go ahead after they followed the U.K. in sanctioning Abramovich on Tuesday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism