Chelsea bidders set to learn fate as Raine prepares to announce preferred offer

Chelsea should soon discover who the Premier League club’s next owners will be, with American bank Raine set to reveal its preferred bidder among the three remaining offers this week.

Raine was commissioned to lead the sale process by Roman Abramovich before the Russian billionaire was hit by UK government sanctions last month over his alleged connections to Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

READ MORE

The European and world champions have since been operating under a special license that limits their ability to sell tickets, merchandise and operate in the transfer market.

Chelsea won 19 major trophies during Abramovich’s 19-year reign and could add another when they face Liverpool in next month’s FA Cup final.

However, the impact of the sanctions is beginning to show, with rows of empty seats in the home end for Arsenal’s 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The club also cannot offer new contracts, with defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen likely to leave at the end of the season on free transfers.

The hope is that new owners will be in place by the end of the campaign.

None of the three bids is expected to run into trouble passing the Premier League’s owners ‘and directors’ test or seeking UK government approval.

Soft loans totalling £ 1.5 billion ($ 1.9 billion) from Abramovich have fueled Chelsea’s success over the past two decades but he will not claim that money back and will not receive funds from the sale while sanctioned.

Chelsea’s major trophies of the Abramovich era

Despite those losses and the need for an expensive stadium upgrade to match their status as one of Europe’s top clubs, the sale is set to attract a world-record fee for a sports club of an estimated £ 2.5 billion.

Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss, who is part of one of the three remaining consortiums bidding for Chelsea, first broke the news of Abramovich’s desire to sell in an interview with newspaper Blick.

However, it is American Todd Boehly, co-owner of Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers, who is leading their bid along with British lawyer Jonathan Goldstein.

Goldstein’s loyalties as a Tottenham fan have presented a red flag for some Chelsea fans, but Boehly has credibility with his ownership of the Dodgers, who won a first World Series for 32 years in 2020. He has also overseen a significant stadium redevelopment at Dodger Stadium and modernization will be needed at Stamford Bridge.

Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly leads one of the three remaining bids for Chelsea.  AFP

The second of the three bids is led by Martin Broughton, who brings formidable football and business experience to the table as a former chairman of Liverpool and British Airways.

However, it is a collection of sports stars he has assembled that has caught the eye in his bid. Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and tennis great Serena Williams have reportedly pledged to invest millions into Broughton’s consortium.

“When I heard about the opportunity, I was like wow,” Hamilton said. “This is a great opportunity to be part of something so great.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, a Chelsea fan, would also take a seat on the board if the bid were successful.

Lewis Hamilton is among an assembly of sports stars to be part of Martin Broughton's bid to buy Chelsea.  Getty

The major financial investment for the bid does cause a headache for the Premier League as it comes from Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own a stake in Crystal Palace. Harris and Blitzer would have to sell their shares in Palace before being cleared to be part-owners of Chelsea.

The third and final remaining bid is spearheaded by co-owner of NBA team Boston Celtics and Serie A club Atalanta, and co-chairman of Bain Capital, which has $ 160 billion in assets, Stephen Pagliuca. The American was the last of the bidders to go public with his interest by him.

He has secured the support of the True Blues Consortium, a Chelsea supporters group that includes former captain John Terry.

There is even more sports business experience among his consortium. Larry Tanenbaum owns stakes in Toronto’s ice hockey, basketball and football teams as well as being chairman of the NBA.

Pagliuca only bought into Atalanta in February, paying a reported $ 450 million for a 47 per cent stake.

Stephen Pagliuca, right, became co-owner of Serie A club Atalanta in February and leads a consortium to take over Chelsea.  AFP

Updated: April 24, 2022, 6:34 AM

Leave a Comment