London (AFP) – Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family have confirmed they are leading a consortium that will bid to buy English Premier League club Chelsea, as British athletics great Sebastian Coe announced his involvement in a rival effort to purchase the Blues.
New York merchant bank Raine Group has set a Friday deadline for bids, with Roman Abramovich’s trophy-filled 19-year tenure as owner of the Stamford Bridge club coming to a close.
“The Ricketts family, owners of (Major League Baseball team) the Chicago Cubs, can confirm they will be leading an investment group that will make a formal bid for Chelsea Football Club this Friday,” said a widely reported statement.
“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.”
The Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009 and celebrated a World Series victory in 2016, ending a 108-year wait for the title.
– ‘Right man’ –
Coe, now the president of global governing body World Athletics, said later Wednesday he had joined British businessman Martin Broughton’s consortium bid to buy Chelsea.
Coe, the driving force behind London’s succesful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics, said former Liverpool chairman Broughton was the “right man” to lead Chelsea into its next chapter” given his “exceptional” business record and experience at Anfield.
He added European champions Chelsea would continue to challenge for major trophies under Broughton.
“But most importantly, like me, he is a lifelong Chelsea supporter and Shed End season-ticket holder,” Coe, the Olympic 1500 metres champion at both the 1980 and 1984 Games, said in a statement.
“We love our club and will always put the fans first.”
Russian billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The British government imposed sanctions on Abramovich last week, describing him as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Chelsea’s assets have been frozen but they are allowed to operate under a special licence, with the government taking oversight of the potential sale.
Abramovich cannot profit from the sale of Chelsea but had pledged to write off the club’s £1.5 billion ($2 billion) debt and divert all proceeds to a charitable foundation, before the sanctions came into effect.
A number of other parties are understood to be interested in buying Chelsea, including a consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly, a part-owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss.
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