It’s been three weeks since Roman Abramovich announced he was selling Chelsea following the UK government’s decision to place financial sanctions on him in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement came just days after Abramovich said he planned to hand over the stewardship of the club to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation.
As expected, the European and Club World Cup champions have attracted plenty of interest from all over the world. Investment bank the Raine Group are overseeing the sale process, with several bidders having already confirmed that they have lodged offers to take over the club.
The confirmed bidders
Raine Group provided a deadline of last Friday for interested buyers to get their bids in, and the following have confirmed that they have submitted offer:
The Ricketts family
The owners of baseball team the Chicago Cubs are one of the American groups who have confirmed they are trying to buy Chelsea.
Tom Ricketts is the face of the ownership bid and the family have also joined forces with hedge fund owner and billionaire Ken Griffin to provide more financial backing.
“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts family and partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community,” they said in a statement.
But the prospective takeover has been met with backlash from Chelsea fans, who started the hashtag #NoToRicketts after past racist and Islamophobic emails from Tom Ricketts’ father Joe – who is not involved in the takeover – re-emerged.
“Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms. Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society,” the family said in response.
The Blue Football Consortium
British property tycoon and Chelsea fan Nick Candy is the face of the consortium, which includes former striker and manager Gianluca Vialli who is the co-founder of investment firm Tifosy Capital & Advisory.
Candy was also able to increase his bid after receiving further financial support from South Korean investors Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group.
“Mr Candy has a huge affinity with Chelsea. His father was asked to play for the club and he has been watching matches at Stamford Bridge since the age of four,” a spokesperson said.
“The club deserves a world class stadium and infrastructure and Mr Candy’s unique expertise and background in real estate would be a hugely valuable asset to delivering this vision.”
Todd Boehly’s consortium
American Todd Boehly, like the Ricketts family, is also involved in baseball and owns a 20 percent stake in the LA Dodgers.
He has formed a consortium with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British property investor Jonathan Goldstein.
In a statement, Boehly’s advisor Daniel Finkelstein said: “They understand about data, and they understand about fans. I’m really excited about the plans for fan involvement which I believe in strongly.
“I want Chelsea to be pioneers. I’m passionate about Chelsea to the point of eccentricity. I want owners who will invest but are also insightful and use modern methods to keep our club at the top of the world. I believe Todd Boehly would be just such an owner.”
A consortium led by the London-based investment firm is also made up of hedge fund manager Jonathan Lourie of Cheyne Capital and Bob Finch of Talis Capital.
Centricus co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam and chief executive Garth Ritchie – who are both Chelsea fans – are heading up the bid.
In a statement, the group statement said: “Our financing for the deal includes funding for the completion of the transaction and funding for working capital required for the day-to-day operations of the CFC Group, funds required to maintain an elite global brand, investment in grassroots and in-community football initiatives such as the Chelsea Academy, the women’s team, the youth development programme and the Chelsea Foundation and strategic real estate investment.
“The intention is to maintain and support existing management on both the business and sporting operations of the CFC Group. We intend to maintain the existing strategy direction.
“Clearly, the CFC Group has been operating in challenging conditions and we appreciate the importance for the CFC Group, the fans and other key stakeholders of ensuring a smooth and stable ownership transition.”
Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe
Lord Sebastian Coe is supporting a consortium fronted by former Liverpool chairman and deputy chairman of International Airlines Group Sir Martin Broughton.
“I am certain that Sir Martin is the right man to lead Chelsea Football Club into its next chapter,” Lord Coe said in a statement.
“He has an exceptional track record in British business, as well as unrivalled experience in shepherding Liverpool out of a very difficult situation.
“He has the vision, acumen and financial backing to ensure our club’s future success, keeping Chelsea Football Club at the top of European football and challenging for trophies.
“But most importantly, like me, he is a lifelong Chelsea supporter and Shed End season-ticket holder. I know that this bid is for the millions of Chelsea fans around the world. We love our club and will always put the fans first.”
Is there anyone else?
Aside from the bidders which have confirmed they are interested in buying the club, there are a number of other reported potential suitors.
That includes Saudi Media – the largest media group in the Middle East – which is owned by Mohamed Alkhereiji. The group is yet to confirm this interest but have been widely reported as being among those involved in the bidding process.
New York Jets owner and former American politician Woody Johnson is also among those that has been reported as having lodged a bid for Chelsea.
Meanwhile, former Blues defender John Terry is part of the True Blues Consortium – a group which wants to secure a 10 percent stake in the club.
With the deadline for bids having now passed, the next step is for Raine Group to decide on a list of preferred bidders for the club from among those who have submitted offers.
The next owner of Chelsea will then be decided from that much narrower shortlist of bidders.
It is unclear as of yet how long the process will take, but given that the bidders are still yet to hear whether they have made it to the next stage of the process, its likely that Chelsea will be operating under the conditions of the special licence they have been given for a little while yet.