Tuesday, April 9

New twist in Chelsea bidding war as billionaire Gilbert joins Ricketts family | Chelsea

The race to buy Chelsea has taken another twist after it emerged that the Ricketts family have been joined in their bid by the Rock Entertainment Group, headed by Dan Gilbert who is worth an estimated $31bn (£23.5bn). REG owns the NBA basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The level of Gilbert’s investment has not been disclosed and there is no clarity about who will be Chelsea’s majority shareholder if this consortium sees off the other three bidders. The Ricketts family had already partnered with the billionaire hedge fund tycoon, Ken Griffin, who is yet to disclose if he would take a controlling stake.

The confusion arose following suggestions in America that the Ricketts family would not have a controlling stake in the club, raising further questions about their controversial bid for Chelsea. In a statement released on Sunday, the Ricketts family moved to reassure supporters.

“Over the past fortnight, the Ricketts family has met with several Chelsea supporter groups and carefully listened to all their feedback,” the statement said. “As we enter the next phase of the process, we are sharing a list of specific commitments that give fans a pivotal role in protecting Chelsea’s heritage and building for future success.”

In a numbered list that followed, the Ricketts family pledged to:

  • Make no change to the club’s name, badge and crest, or Chelsea blue, without the consent of supporters

  • Never participate in a European Super League and always protect the integrity and heritage of Chelsea FC

  • Commit the resources necessary across all levels of the club to continue winning trophies, including investing in the first team, experienced football leadership and the Academy

  • Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality

  • Create an Advisory Committee with diverse representation to ensure our decisions are informed by: a former men’s and women’s first team player, members of the CST and Chelsea Pitch Owners, and community leaders

  • Explore every option to redevelop Stamford Bridge and do everything in our power to keep playing in this historic stadium

  • Match the current commitment to Chelsea FC Women and increase the number of women’s matches played at Stamford Bridge

  • Continue the vital charitable work of the Chelsea Foundation, seeking to use the power of football and sport to motivate, educate and inspire.

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The news of Gilbert’s involvement emerged in the wake of Chelsea’s shock 4-1 defeat to Brentford, before which supporters protested against the prospect of the Ricketts as owners. It remains to be seen whether Sunday’s statement will change the mood.

On Saturday, Thomas Tuchel attempted to play down what was a grim afternoon, and insisted his side did not have an eye on their Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Thomas Frank reflects on Christian Eriksen’s ‘fairytale’ return as Brentford thrash Chelsea – video

“After so many wins and so many good results, I will now refuse to make a drama out of it,” he said. “Why should we? Brentford made a lot of the 10 minutes we gave them. After the third goal we had a disallowed goal, a pressing situation against the goalkeeper and another big chance from Kai Havertz. We missed all three and there was a feeling that it wasn’t our day. So it’s a mixture of everything.

“We will dig in and try to find out why it was like this. There are some reasons which we can put on us. It’s hard to take because it’s very unusual for us. We will refocus on Monday.”

Tuchel argued his players were simply weary after the international break. “We struggled at first, but I felt we were more tired mentally. Yesterday, we were wearing gloves and it was snowing in training. Today, it was very, very warm.

“It’s more difficult for us than them to play as the underdog and be well-prepared for this match. In the context of all this I am OK with the first half. The half-time speech was a reminder to keep going and it would come with more fluidity. And it did.”


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