Favorite emerges in Chelsea takeover saga
A consortium fronted by Todd Boehly, the part-owner of MLB side the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been selected as the preferred bidder to complete a takeover of Premier League giants Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, despite Friday's sensational eleventh-hour bid from the UK's richest man, Jim Ratcliffe.
However, a deal to secure the sale of the club must be signed off on by both the UK government and the Premier League, with the successful bidder required to pass the league's owners' and directors' test.
It was also reported by The Athletic that Boehly's consortium, which also includes fellow Dodgers part-owner Mark Walters and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, has not yet secured an exclusivity agreement with the London club to advance the sale.
Representatives for both Boehly and Chelsea have not yet commented on the reports.
The bid fronted by Boehly is understood to be more than £4 billion ($5 billion) - a sum which includes around £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) to fund the redevelopment of the club's Stamford Bridge stadium and to finance player purchases.
Boehly's group emerged as the favorite to secure the takeover deal on Friday, just hours after Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe, who Forbes ranks as the UK's richest man, mate a late bid after discussions with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck.
Bids fronted by both Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca had also made the shortlist of potential suitors.
Boehly's consortium will now likely enter into direct and negotiations to secure a takeover. If a deal is not reached, the remaining bidders will be invited back into the process.
Chelsea were put up for sale in March by Abramovich amid concerns that sanctions placed upon him by the UK government in the wake of Russia's military operation in Ukraine could threaten the financial viability of the reigning European and world champions.
The Russian billionaire had been the sole owner of the Premier League side since he purchased it from Ken Bates in 2003.
It was also reported on Friday that Abramovich had decreed that the winning bidder must contribute a sum of £500 million ($628 million) to aid victims of the military campaign in Ukraine.