F1 ace Hamilton comments amid links to Chelsea bid
Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says his joining of a consortium hoping to purchase Premier League giants Chelsea from Roman Abramovich is “one of the greatest opportunities” as he spoke of his excitement at the potential investment opportunity.
It was reported on Thursday that Hamilton had joined another sports superstar, tennis queen Serena Williams, in joining a consortium fronted by British businessman Martin Broughton, with each understood to have committed a sum of around £10 million to the fund.
And speaking to the media on Friday for the first time since the reports Hamilton, an Arsenal supporter, expressed his excitement at potentially mirroring Liverpool investor LeBron James by owning a stake in a Premier League club.
“Ultimately, I'm a sporting fan,” Hamilton told the media ahead of this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“It's the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and one of the most successful. When I heard about this opportunity I was like, 'Wow', this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something.”
Hamilton's fondness for Chelsea's London rivals Arsenal may prove to be a sticking point to some supporters - but Hamilton attempted to address any potential discord with fans by saying that he has had a long-held respect for the Blues.
“I know when you watch sports there's always a crazy rivalry between one team and another,” he said via Sky Sports. "I don't really hold that hostility within my personality.
“I love seeing people excel, I've been to quite a few Arsenal and Chelsea games because my uncle is a massive Blues fan, so there's been that kind of rivalry in the family all my life.
“This is a business opportunity, an incredible opportunity to be a part of the biggest sport in the world and one of the biggest teams in the world.”
Hamilton went on to suggest that while he has made his name and his riches in motorsport, football was his first love.
“I've been a football fan since I was a kid, I've played since I was a kid, from four to 17 in teams every year. I played every year through childhood, I've been to numerous games,” he said.
“When I was young, around the corner from where I lived, I used to play football with all the kids and a couple of my close friends at the time, and I really wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of color there.
“All the kids supported someone different - one was Tottenham, one was Man United and I remember switching between these teams when I was younger and when I'd get home my sister punching me several times in the arm, and saying, 'you have to support Arsenal.'
“So I remember at five, six years old I then became a supporter of Arsenal but my uncle Terry is a big Blues fan, so I've been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play.”
The bid fronted by Broughton is among three candidates to have made the shortlist being considered by New York's Raine Group, who are overseeing the sale. The others are consortia led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and by Steve Pagliuca, the co-owner of the Boston Celtics.
Hamilton also confirmed that he and Serena Williams had held numerous conversations about their joint bid.
“We did speak about it - Serena and I are very, very close," said Hamilton. "She's a phenomenal athlete and woman. She asked me what my thoughts were on it and I told her that I'm going to be a part of it and she decided to join.
“Naturally I heard about it in the news, everyone was obviously aware of it. I got contacted and Sir Martin took time to speak to me on the phone and explain his and his team's goals if they were able to win the bid that was incredibly exciting and it very much aligned with my values.”
And pressed on his strategy should he become involved in the football club Hamilton said that he hoped to held Chelsea move past the recent controversy which has surrounded its past ownership and subsequent sale.
“We're trying to acquire a team and move it forwards," he stated. "It's all about the community. That's what really makes a football team, the people in and around it.”