Chelsea bidders reveal new details as sale process heats up
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Final bids are being prepared for European champions Chelsea, and new business figures are being added to the consortium as part of the process of ending ownership of approved Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Four known bids are still under consideration for Chelsea, which could sell for 3 3 billion ($ 4 billion) since Abramovich offered the West London Premier League club for sale six weeks ago.
Steve Pagliuka, co-owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, went public for the first time on Tuesday to confirm his plans to own a Premier League team that could give him a 55% stake in Serie A team Atlanta.
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The Americans cannot control the two clubs playing in the same UEFA-organized European competition, although Atlanta is not in contention to qualify for next season.
“Later this week, we will submit a significant and credible bid offer,” Pagliuca said in a statement. “We hope that the Premier League will meet the relevant requirements and rules of the UK government and UEFA – and we are committed to honoring our commitment to the credibility and good governance of Chelsea Football Club from day one.”
Another bid, led by Chicago Cubs baseball owner Tom Ricketts, has come under fire for his father Joey’s Islamophobic comments in emails leaked three years ago. The Ricketts family is working to distance itself from the ancestors, and on Tuesday another business leader was announced as a new leading figure in the bid.
Karan Bilimoria, a Chelsea fan who founded the Cobra Beer Company in West London in 1989 and sits in the House of Lords, will be a director of the club and an ambassador if the Ricketts bid is successful.
“Tom and the larger group have a proven track record of running successful sports teams and a strong outlook for both the club and the local community,” Bilimoria said in a statement.
Bilimoria is the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry.
“We have always been clear that it is important for our bids to have local expertise and perspective,” Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “Because of Lord Bilimoria’s unparalleled credentials and his love for Chelsea, he is the perfect addition to our squad.”
A rival bid features an existing American investor in a Premier League team: Josh Harris owns a 17% stake in club Crystal Palace in south London. Harris, who also owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, is part of a consortium led by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Martin Brownton and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
A fourth consortium includes Todd Bohley, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Weiss, and Jonathan Goldstein, a London-based property investor who is the CEO of Kane International.
Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea and his assets were confiscated after Britain approved it as part of a crackdown on alligators following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The government will have to sign off on the sale, which is being overseen by New York-based Rain Group Merchant Bank, under conditions that allow the party to continue operating after Abramovich is approved. Abramovich can’t make a profit from sales.
The British government said in a statement: “Our role is to consider an application for a revised license that approves the sale of the club when it comes up with a preferred bidder.”
Chelsea have won 21 trophies in 19 years owned by Abramovich, relying on his huge investment to become one of the most successful clubs in Europe.
The ability of a new owner to maintain significant funding for players can help determine which bid predominates.
“Our first focus and goal is to make strategic investments to continue competing for championships and trophies,” Pagliuka said. “We will support our players and managers to ensure that Chelsea are habitual winners and title contenders, whether in the Premier League, the Champions League or the Women’s Super League.
“Besides, we will continue to invest in the youth academy to develop future stars and we would not be in this process if we did not have an exciting and inclusive approach to Chelsea.”
There is a long-term need to rebuild Stamford Bridge to generate more revenue from fans and corporate supporters. One of the most successful clubs in the Premier League is Chelsea’s smallest and most up-to-date stadium, where Abramovich stuck in 2018 with plans to rebuild the 41,000-capacity venue as British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepened.
“We’re not just committed to staying at Chelsea’s home, at Stamford Bridge,” said Pagliuka, “but we’re inspired to renovate or rebuild the stadium. Eligible. “
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