The Ricketts family have been shortlisted among Chelsea’s favorite buyers even after their bid faced criticism from Blues supporters, who said on Friday they still doubted the future owners’ ability to lead an “inclusive and successful club”. .
Chicago Cubs owners are among contenders for Chelsea, who are expected to fetch a price tag of over $3 billion, but could still find themselves trailing the top two consortia, one led by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly, and the other. directed by Martin Broughton and Sebastian Coe. The latter, CBS Sports revealed last week, has the financial backing of Josh Harris and David Blitzer behind them.
Chelsea supporters have had a sustained #NoToRicketts campaign on social media after historic racist comments by Joe Ricketts in 2018 came to light. He has since apologized for them and the bid tried to build bridges with fans this week, including through talks with the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST). These, however, did not have the desired outcome for the family.
“The primary and most important purpose of CST is to represent the interests of our members and Chelsea supporters,” read a statement from the trust. “It is important to clarify that the decision on the successful bidder will be made by Chelsea FC, Raine Group and the UK Government. CSE has no legal role or direct say in this decision.
“However, we must be prepared for all eventualities. It is essential that the new owners of the club trusted by the fan base and demonstrate an understanding of the values that we defend. This is why the strength of feelings towards the Ricketts family bid on the part of Chelsea supporters cannot and should not be ignored.
“CSE is grateful to the Ricketts family for meeting with us this week. We challenged them on every point the supporters raised concerns about. Nevertheless, our concerns about their ability to lead an inclusive and successful club on behalf of our diverse supporter base across the globe have yet to be allayed.
“It is up to the Ricketts family to demonstrate how they will address supporter concerns – particularly around inclusivity, given past and recent statements from family members, and they have yet to do so. They need to do it publicly and they need to do it urgently. If they are unable to do so and gain the trust of Chelsea supporters, the CST board do not believe it would be in the interest of our members and Chelsea supporters for their bid to succeed.”
In response, Tom Ricketts said: “My family and I are very grateful to all the fans and supporter groups who have taken the time to meet with us this week and share their passion and concerns for Chelsea Football Club. He is clear that you only have the best interests of the club at heart.
“We have listened to all of your feedback – including from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust – and are grateful that the door is still open for us to demonstrate our commitment to working with the fans to protect the club’s legacy. It is now up to us. to redouble our efforts and set out a clear vision for our management of the club with diversity and inclusion at its heart.”
The Trust will be polling their supporters about the Ricketts offer over the next few weeks, but Friday’s move represents a blow to what is becoming the most unpopular of the favorites. The CSE statement also called for a share of gold to be handed over to supporters by the winning bidder, one that would allow them to veto actions that could impact the ‘club heritage’, including moving the stadium or returning to the Super League. Both Broughton and the Boehly Consortium made overtures to supporters without fully committing to gold action.
Although these two have emerged as favourites, insiders believe the identity of the winner is unlikely to be known until Chelsea’s next game, at home to Brentford a week away on Saturday. Raine narrowed the number of competing proposals, however, with high-profile bids from Nick Candy and Saudi Media Group failing to make a difference. The latter was one of the first to show his hands but was never considered a serious contender. Candy, meanwhile, would be keen to join one of the other bands still in the mix.
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Once a preferred bidder was selected by Raine and Roman Abramovich, who was forced to sell the club after being sanctioned by the UK over his links to Vladimir Putin, confirmed he would not block it not, the Premier League will then proceed with its testing of owners and directors. It has been suggested that Harris and Blitzer may have an advantage in this regard, having already suffered this when buying their stake in Palace, although further verification is needed. Divesting their 18% stake in the Eagles wouldn’t be a problem, a source at Selhurst Park told CBS Sports that a deal could be done “in 30 seconds”.
Only once these processes have been completed will the UK government amend the license under which Chelsea operate to allow a sale to be completed. The two main consortia will be convinced that this last hurdle can be safely negotiated because they have influential political figures in their corner. Coe is a former Tory MP while Boehly’s team is backed by his Tory counterpart Daniel Finkelstein.