The 9pm Friday deadline for bids to buy Chelsea has passed, with consortiums led by Nick Candy, the Ricketts family and Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe among the bidders.
The sale has come amid UK and EU sanctions on Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Chelsea also under a number of restrictions.
The club – including women and youth teams – cannot sell tickets to games or sell merchandise and are restricted on how much they can spend on any given game day.
It is a unique situation for many reasons, but especially that a club like Chelsea does not become available on the open market very often, if ever.
They are one of the biggest clubs in the world – the world and European champions – so there is a lot of interest.
Nick Candy says he will put fans at the heart of the club
Mr Candy, a British Luxury property developer, has pledged to have fan representation on the club’s board if he is successful.
He confirmed he is leading a global consortium to purchase Chelsea that includes South Korea’s Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group – and has submitted a bid of £2bn.
He said: “Chelsea is one of the most iconic and successful professional football clubs in the world, with a rich heritage, global following, and a highly valuable brand.
“Football clubs are vitally important community and cultural assets, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give football back to the fans and put them at the heart of the operations and strategy of a leading global football club.”
Ricketts family say they know how to run a successful team
The Ricketts family – owners of the Chicago Cubs and one of the biggest names linked with a big – also confirmed on Friday evening that they are leading an investment group that had sent in an offer.
“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,” an official statement from the family said.
Significantly, they are backed by Ken Griffin, who is a hedge fund billionaire and Sky Sports News has been told he is almost three times as rich as Abramovich.
He is also the single richest individual that is reportedly interested in buying Chelsea.
Sir Martin cites experience with Liverpool’s change in ownership
A consortium led by British businessman Sir Martin has also submitted a formal bid, with Lord Coe among those taking part.
Sir Martin commented: “We will secure a prompt purchase and smooth transition, with funds readily available for the immediate takeover of the club and immediate investment in the team, facilities, and commercial opportunities.”
The former chief executive of British American Tobacco continued: “I have a track record of success in boardrooms throughout my career and I have done this before.
“I remain the only person to have effected a change of ownership at a major football club in a similar situation, which I did at Liverpool 12 years ago.
“But most importantly, as a lifelong fan, I am committed to ensuring Chelsea maintains its preeminent position at the top of European football and making sure we put fans first.”
Sir Martin was previously the chairman of British Airways and now runs Sports Investment Partners, a private investment firm which has backed businesses in areas such as sports technology and event management.
He brokered the sale of Liverpool Football Club during a similar crisis 12 years ago.
As the state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland was the club’s biggest lender at the time, he became the first and only person to steer a change of ownership at a Premier League football club involving the UK government.
There is also another bid from a consortium comprised of LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, Times columnist and former Conservative government adviser Daniel Finkelstein backed by Jonathan Goldstein.
American investment firm Clearlake Capital have joined the same consortium.
Bloomberg are reporting that Barbara Charone has also joined the same consortium.
She is a Chelsea fan who set up the music PR company MBC PR, which represents artists like Madonna and Maroon 5.
There have been other confirmations of bids for Chelsea, with Aethel Partners putting in a bid worth more than £2bn for Chelsea on Thursday.
The investment company based in London is willing to provide Chelsea with an immediate £50m to deal with any short-term financing the club may need.