The owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family, are preparing to launch a bid for Chelsea after joining forces with the billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin.
Interested parties have until Friday to submit takeover proposals to the Raine Group, the bank handling the process, and the Ricketts have said they will make their offer to buy the club from Roman Abramovich before the deadline. Griffin is the founder and CEO of Citadel Asset Management and is valued by Forbes at $26.5m (£20.2m).
A spokesperson for the family said: “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 (March 18).
“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.”
The Ricketts family believe their work with the Cubs proves they are strong candidates to own Chelsea. The baseball side won the World Series in 2016 and the family have overseen a major redevelopment of the team’s iconic ground, Wrigley Field, which suggests they would not be overawed by the challenge of potentially renovating Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea need a sale to go through quickly after the UK government imposed sanctions on Abramovich in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The European champions are operating under a restrictive licence and risk falling into financial trouble if they are not bought soon.
As many as 200 groups have notified Raine of their interest. The frontrunners until now have been a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly, Jonathan Goldstein and Hansjörg Wyss. The trio have submitted an offer of between £2bn and £2.5bn and are open to more investors joining their group.
Reports that the British property tycoon Nick Candy is ready to team up with Boehly, Wyss and Goldstein, who is a Tottenham fan, are incorrect. A spokesperson for Candy said: “There are no talks under way with Nick Candy and the Todd Boehly and Jonathan Goldstein consortium, not least because Mr Candy does not want a lifelong Spurs fan as part of the future ownership of Chelsea Football Club.”
Candy, who supports Chelsea, plans to bid. Sources have said he has been approached by a number of investors and has the funds in place to succeed with a takeover.
There is also interest from the owner of the New York Jets, Woody Johnson. The Saudi Media Group is also set to make an offer.
Raine remain hopeful a deal could go through by the end of this month and, with time of the essence, bidders have been given a chance to look at the club’s latest accounts and wage bill. Groups serious about buying Chelsea are doing due diligence.
Chelsea are operating under a restrictive special licence and are desperate to avoid delays, particularly as any deal requires final approval from the UK government.
With that in mind Raine is looking to make the process as smooth as possible. Bidders are being told they will need to offer legal guarantees that they have funds to complete a deal.
. If you have any questions about contributing, please