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15 Apr, 2022 12:31

Controversial US bid withdraws from Chelsea battle

The consortium including the Ricketts family has ended its interest in buying the London club
Controversial US bid withdraws from Chelsea battle

American sports tycoons the Ricketts family have ended their bid to buy Chelsea football club, it has been announced. 

The family were seen as one of the four main contenders to take over as the sale of the London club owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich approaches its conclusion.

But in a statement on Friday, the consortium including the Ricketts family said its was out of the running.

“The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert Group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea FC,” read a statement.

“In the process of finalizing their proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process.

“We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans, and we wish the new owners well.”

The bid had included American hedge fund titan Ken Griffin and fellow billionaire Dan Gilbert.

Fronted by Chicago Cubs owners Tom and Laura Ricketts, the takeover offer had faced more opposition than any of the other main contenders after Chelsea supporters were angered by historical emails from family patriarch Joe Ricketts.    

Joe Ricketts was not involved in the bid but was the source of fury after being accused of Islamophobia based on leaked emails in 2019.

According to reports, the fan backlash is not linked the Ricketts withdrawing their interest, which instead is said to stem from consortium members being unable to agree the final composition of their offer.

With the Ricketts consortium out of contention, a trio of bids will now battle it out for what seems set to be a record £3 billion ($3.9 billion) deal for a sports team.

The process is being managed by US merchant bank Raine Group, which is understood to have received final bids on Thursday.   

Two US-based offers remain alongside one UK-led consortium. LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is part of one bid, while a rival offer includes Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.

The UK contender to take over at Stamford Bridge comprises British tycoon Jonathan Goldstein, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe.

A takeover could be completed by the end of the month although the green light will be required by the Premier League and UK government.

Russian billionaire Abramovich announced he was putting the club he has owned since 2003 up for sale shortly before being sanctioned by the UK government last month for his alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich will not see any of the profits from the Chelsea sale, having previously vowed to donate “net proceeds” to victims of the conflict in Ukraine.