May 23, 2022

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Government ready to give green light to any of four potential Chelsea owners

3 min read

The British government is prepared to usher through Chelsea’s sale to any of the four shortlisted bidders according to the Press Association.

The remaining contenders to buy Chelsea must submit final offers for the Stamford Bridge club on Thursday.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group will then hope to present a preferred bidder to Downing Street in the week beginning next Monday.

The government must approve the eventual buyer, with the issuing of a new Treasury licence for the sale the final hurdle for Chelsea’s would-be new owners.

PA sources have revealed Downing Street’s satisfaction in principle with all remaining parties in the battle to buy the Blues from Roman Abramovich.

Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, in partnership with US magnate Mark Walter and British businessman Jonathan Goldstein, have both pushed hard in their bids for the Blues.

Martin Broughton and Sebastien Coe have teamed up on another bid, while Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca is also in the running.

The Ricketts family’s bid has drawn criticism among Chelsea supporters, with an online petition launched against their candidacy.

A small protest was also staged at Stamford Bridge ahead of Brentford’s 4-1 win over Chelsea earlier this month.

Chelsea supporters have objected to controversies around the family including patriarch Joe Ricketts’ Islamophobic statements in leaked emails from 2019.

Siblings Tom and Laura Ricketts are thought to be considered suitable bid leaders however, owing to their Cubs stewardship and efforts towards community relations and diversity and inclusion in Chicago.

The bid also boasts major financial backing from two of America’s richest men in Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert.

The Cubs owners’ public pledges to keep Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, reject any European Super League and to include supporters in decision-making processes are thought to have calmed any unease in Downing Street.

Broughton and Coe’s consortium’s bid for Chelsea would find favour in political circles, given the duo’s clear establishment links and track record in sporting administration.

Boston Celtics chief Pagliuca’s track record in the NBA is not thought to generate any concerns in Downing Street either.

Both the Broughton and Pagliuca consortium offers would likely require divesting of other football club shares, but Government chiefs are understood to expect Raine Group to have already accounted for such detail in whittling down their shortlist.

Josh Harris and David Blitzer would have to offload their shareholding in Crystal Palace if they are named in the Broughton bid as expected, while Pagliuca would need to reduce his 55% share in Italian club Atalanta.

The Boehly-Goldstein bid appears to have precious few sticking points from a political perspective.

The heads of the four consortiums met with Chelsea’s board executives last week, aiming to gather as much information as possible amid the fine-tuning of their bids.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale in March amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK government with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.

Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5billion debt.

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