Brit billionaire told to forget Chelsea ownership ambitions
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reportedly been told he should "forget" the late £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) bid he made for Premier League giants Chelsea by the US bank currently overseeing the sale.
Despite this, though, the British tycoon has reportedly not given up hope of owning the west Londoners, with the consortium led by American Todd Boehly still in pole position to assume control of the club.
Chelsea were put up for sale by Roman Abramovich on March 2. Days later, the club's owner since 2003 had his assets frozen by the UK government for alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a response to Russia's military operation.
And though Abramovich cannot profit in any way, a purchase is still possible while overseen by the UK government and the Raine Group, which has informed Ratcliffe of the bad news.
"We’ve had an email to say, ‘forget it, you’re not in the process’," explained Tom Crotty, who is the director of communications and corporate affairs at Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals firm Ineos, to the Telegraph.
"That was from Raine, but we’re not giving up because we believe what we’ve got is a bid that makes good sense for the club," Crotty insisted.
"They will say it was too late. We said: ‘You need to give us some feedback and if we’ve got something wrong, tell us what we’ve got wrong and we can try to correct it.’ But we haven’t even had that opportunity."
"We were told over the weekend," Crotty revealed. "I’m not going to criticize Raine because we are late and in their defense, they will use that and say you should have been in much earlier."
Ratcliffe allegedly offered to pay £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) initially and then £1.75 billion ($2.2 billion) over the next 10 years while also meeting with the Chelsea Supporters' Trust a few days ago to outline his vision for the club.
Crotty said that Ineos only made their late bid after realizing the price was less than anticipated and had concluded that the number made "financial sense".
The sale of the Champions League holders has been complicated by reports that Abramovich could do a U-turn on his previous vow to write off a £1.6 billion ($2 billion) loan to Chelsea.
Crotty confirmed that Ineos would "absolutely not" take on the Abramovich debt. "Not in addition to what we are already offering, no," Crotty said. "The valuation is based on it being debt-free."
With their special license ending on May 31, just nine days after their Premier League season has been brought to a close, Chelsea are facing a race against time after the UK government insisted that a transaction must be completed by then, according to ESPN.
If Chelsea go past deadline date, they run the risk of going out of business and there have even been rumors of them being excluded from the Premier League.
With just short of four weeks to run, however, Chelsea can take encouragement from a previous record of 10 days which Premier League chief executive Richard Masters cited for a club to be taken over, which includes the owners' and directors' test being completed too.
Meanwhile, however, British authorities have allegedly been unimpressed by Abramovich changing his mind as per repayment and reports that two of Abramovich’s key allies, chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia, might keep their roles if Boehly takes over haven't gone done well either.
"Any continuity with the Abramovich regime at Chelsea is certainly an unsettling development," remarked the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Julian Knight to the Financial Times, and one source has suggested to ESPN that the sale could still go ahead with Abramovich's $2 billion frozen as one of his assets.
Losing three of their last six games with cross-city rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur closing in on them, Thomas Tuchel's third-placed Chelsea also need to guarantee Champions League qualification for next term with just four games remaining.
They continue that quest with two Premier League matches against Wolves and Leeds United on Saturday and Tuesday before playing Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley the following Saturday.