Chelsea sale poised for significant step forward as favourites to buy club emerge
The Ricketts family have tried to defuse a racism row as the battle for the ownership of Chelsea promises to take a significant step forward.
Representatives of the Ricketts family are flying to London for talks with Chelsea supporters as the parties expect to hear from US brokers Raine who are set to choose preferred bidders on behalf of outgoing owner Roman Abramovich.
The Ricketts family, the owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, have been caught up in a furore after historical remarks from emails from Joe Ricketts emerged, saying Muslims “are my enemy”, prompted a furious reaction from those associated with Chelsea.
It sparked former Chelsea winger Paul Canoville to insist that it “should be a big fat anti-racism no” to the Ricketts attempt to buy the clubs. But the Ricketts family have issued a statement which said: “Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms. Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society.
“We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of colour. Respect for diversity and inclusion are central to our family’s values. If we prevail in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values.”
It has been reported that Chelsea’s Muslim players would have an issue with the Ricketts family and, as Raine were appointed by Roman Abramovich, and also the club effectively have a say it could be a setback for the Ricketts family who are also backed by US tycoon Ken Griffin.
The Ricketts family’s bid was seen as a strong contender because they have the wealth and also made regenerating Stamford Bridge as a key part of their proposal and can hold up an £800m regeneration of the iconic Cubs’ home Wrigley Field as a strong argument. US tycoon Todd Boelhy, who has teamed up with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British entrepreneur Jonathan Goldstein, is emerging as a favourite in the process.
Boelhy was the early favourite and engaging with fans has also become a key part of the bidding process as well as promising to give fans a say in the long term. British tycoon Sir Martin Broughton, who has Seb Coe on board, is also seen as a strong contender but they have yet to reveal who their financial backers are.
Raine are set to reveal their three preferred bidders with the hope that the takeover could be completed by the end of April. The next step would be for them to ask the Government for licence to facilitate a takeover and the Premier league would also conduct their Owners and Directors’ Test as the final step.
Since Abramovich bought the club in 2003, Chelsea have won every single possible trophy they have competed for, bringing with it vast wealth and riches as they became one of the biggest clubs in the world. They are considered the seventh most valuable club in world football and are estimated to be worth just under £2.5 billion.