The Ricketts family’s bid to buy Chelsea is backed by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, the PA news agency understands.
Gilbert heads Rock Entertainment Group and boasts a personal estimated net worth of £24billion.
The 60-year-old numbers among America’s wealthiest men, and adds yet more financial muscle to the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family’s bid to buy Chelsea.
Ken Griffin is the other main financial power in the Ricketts consortium, with the hedge fund magnate’s personal fortune estimated at £22billion.
Gilbert and Griffin are understood to have been signed up to the Ricketts consortium from the start of the family’s bid to take the helm at the Stamford Bridge club.
Gilbert adds another major player with hands-on sports team ownership to the candidacy, as well as his vast wealth.
The Cavaliers won the NBA finals in 2016, the same year as the Cubs swept to glory in baseball’s World Series.
The varied funding streams for the Ricketts’ bid to buy Chelsea are understood to be entirely separate from the Cubs’ financial backing, and will not affect operations at the Chicago baseball franchise.
The Ricketts’ offer to buy Chelsea is entirely funded by cash, which will prove compelling given the west London club’s sale could reach £3billion.
CST Survey Results— Chelsea Supporters’ Trust⭐️⭐️ (@ChelseaSTrust) April 2, 2022
The Ricketts’ bid for Chelsea has met with strong fan resistance owing to historic Islamophobic emails from family patriarch Joe Ricketts.
Ricketts senior is not on the Chelsea bid, and Tom Ricketts has apologised repeatedly and called those views “abhorrent”, while also forging strong links with Muslim communities in Chicago.
An online petition against the Ricketts’ candidacy to buy Chelsea has more than 20,000 signatures, but a protest at Stamford Bridge on Saturday attracted a maximum 100 people.
Tom Ricketts declared his “absolute commitment” to diversity and inclusion in a statement on Saturday.
Cubs co-chair Laura Ricketts has a prominent role on the Chelsea bid and is the first openly gay sports franchise owner in the USA, as well as a champion and campaigner for the LGBTQ community.
Roman Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea have been granted a special Government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.
Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5billion debt.
LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and British business titan Jonathan Goldstein, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe, and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are the other remaining contenders.
The shortlisted consortiums have until April 11 to submit final bids for Chelsea, with merchant bank the Raine Group aiming to select a preferred bidder by April 18.
The Government would then need to approve that preferred bid and issue a new licence for Chelsea’s sale.
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