Update: We discussed this topic during a guest appearance on WGN News Now
Chelsea FC are now on the trading block, with Owner Roman Abramovich hoping to get, according to reports, somewhere between $4-$7.5B. So you know, you might want to look into the cushions of your couch and see how much change might have fallen underneath/between them. The weekend brought news of a new potential bidder, the Ricketts family, which owns among other things, the Chicago Cubs. As the public face of the 8th richest and most powerful ownership group in Major League Baseball, Chairman Tom Ricketts has made a habit of crying poor in public.
Nobody believed that bullshit before, and certainly no one will buy into his verbal garbage now after this. When claiming that owning MLB club isn’t as fruitful and profitable as we all seem to think it is, back in 2020, Ricketts actually claimed that the “scale of losses around the league are biblical” in light of the covid-19 shortened and scaled back season.
As laughable as this was, on face value, at the time, remember that this came from a man whose club actually had some gate revenue that season, while nobody else did, on account of the Cubs’ deal with the rooftop owners.
So the Cubs were actually in a more advantageous position than other MLB teams.
Ricketts himself is worth $2 billion, with the Ricketts family as a whole worth $4.5 billion. In 2019, the Ricketts family, which founded TD Ameritrade, sold their company to Charles Schwab for $26 billion. So despite their laughably pathetic pleas that they’re strapped for cash, and their sad attempts to grift taxpayer money for Wrigley Field renovations, they are not now nor have they ever been hurting for cash.
That said, they might be able to buy Chelsea in an opportunity that is far below market price. Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who helped empower Vladimir Putin, is now under heavy scrutiny, and a possible target for strict sanctions.
He needs to unload the club before it gets seized, and he has promised to donate that money to the victims of the war in Ukraine.
A lot of moving pieces on this narrative before it actually turns into a thing, so I guess we can just leave it here, for now, in terms of analysis. Watch this space, and we can do a deeper dive on it later.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”