Skip to main content

Chelsea sale still level playing field as the four consortiums fine-tune bids

Roman Abramovich is sanctioned
(Image credit: Peter Cziborra)

Chelsea’s sale remains a level playing field for all four bidding consortiums, the PA news agency understands.

The sheer volume of work required to assess the rival bids leaves no one offer currently ahead of any other, it is understood.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group continues to oversee the sale process, with the four shortlisted bidders able to make improved offers up until April 11.

Roman Abramovich file photo

Roman Abramovich will sell Chelsea after 19 years owning the west London club (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Raine should have a preferred bidder by April 18 with that eventual front-runner then to be put to the UK Government for Downing Street approval.

LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and British business leader Jonathan Goldstein, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe, the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are the four remaining contenders.

All four bidders are fine-tuning their submissions, and could yet raise the value of their offers for the Blues.

The prospective new owners will all have the opportunity to meet with Stamford Bridge executives, and even manager Thomas Tuchel, before making their final submissions to Raine.

Representatives from the four bids will be looking to hold those meetings next week, it is understood.

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 Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Sebastian Coe File Photo

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe is among those looking to buy Chelsea (Mike Egerton/PA)

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.

The Government must grant another new licence to approve Chelsea’s sale, once Raine provides the preferred bidder.

The heads of consortiums bidding for Chelsea were always able to meet with leading figures at and around Stamford Bridge.

And that led to Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts meeting Paul Canoville last week, with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck in attendance.

Ricketts sought to meet Canoville so he could speak to Chelsea’s first black player about his family’s determination for diversity and inclusivity.

Canoville had joined the ‘No To Ricketts’ social media campaign amid Chelsea fans online harbouring concerns over the Cubs owners’ candidacy.

Paul Canoville File Photo

Paul Canoville hopes to meet representatives of all four consortiums bidding to buy Chelsea (Adam Davy/PA)

Tom Ricketts addressed his father Joe Ricketts’ Islamophobic comments from leaked emails in 2019 where he branded Muslims “my enemy”.

Canoville was said to have been impressed by Tom Ricketts’ apology for his father’s email views, labelling the comments “abhorrent”.

Former Chelsea winger Canoville has vowed not to endorse any of the bids to buy the Blues however, and wants to meet with members of each consortium.

The anti-racism campaigner wants to grill all the candidates on their vision for the Premier League club’s future, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

The Raine Group are understood to have had no issues with that meeting, and all bidders have been able to set up similar opportunities.

The consortiums’ plans to redevelop the Stamford Bridge stadium remain crucial to the process of selecting the preferred bidder.

Theresa May round-table meeting with Jewish community leaders

Jonathan Goldstein, right, has teamed up with Todd Boehly in a bid to buy Chelsea (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Abramovich wants Chelsea’s future secured by the new owner, and a revamp of the club’s ground will be central to keeping the world and European club champions at the top of the global game.

The Boehly/Goldstein bid and the Ricketts family have had a head-start on their rivals in that area, having both tabled official offers to buy Chelsea in the past.

Boehly came close to buying the Blues in 2019, while the Ricketts family pushed hard with a bid in 2018.

The due diligence from those submissions have helped both gain insight on Chelsea’s own previous plans for Stamford Bridge redevelopment.

Chelsea bidder Pagliuca came under scrutiny in the House of Lords on Thursday, when Lord Peter Hain criticised Bain Capital, which the American co-chairs.

Lord Hain told the House of Lords: “As a Chelsea fan for 57 years, will the Government ensure that no winning bid loads debt on the club like the Glazers did to Manchester United?

Lord Hain has criticised Bain Capital

Lord Hain has criticised Bain Capital (PA)

“Will ministers also bar the Pagliuca Consortium bid headed by the chair of Bain Capital which remains highly entwined with Bain & Company, recently indicted by a South African Judicial Commission for acting ‘unlawfully’ and referred for prosecution.

“Bain cynically and ruthlessly disabled the country’s tax collecting agency by conspiring with the corrupt former president Zuma for an £8million fee.

“Chelsea and the Premier League must not be contaminated with such despicably corrupt business practice.”

Conservative Lords whip Baroness Penn, replying for the Government, said: “The Government does not want to pre-judge any decision Chelsea may make as it is a decision for them to ensure the best owners for the club are found.

“We would expect all due diligence and assessment of owners to happen before an application for a licence for the sale of the club to be made, which then OFSI (Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation) would consider on its merits.”

Speaking outside the chamber, a spokesperson for Bain Capital said: “Bain Capital spun out from Bain & Company in 1984.

“Since then, the two firms have operated completely independently of one another.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1