It has the potential to be the all-time highest stakes sale of a sports club, and today we’re getting down to the final contenders. Raine Group, a New York City based merchant bank, is facilitating and overseeing the sale of Chelsea FC, narrowing down the list of “preferred bidders” to just two or three. Originally, it was thought that about 20-30 offers were made to purchase the southwest London club.
On Friday we learned the identity of one member of the short list, a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers and L.A. Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly. According to ESPN FC, Boehly’s group “have been informed they have advanced to the next stage.”
This group also includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British property investor Jonathan Goldstein. We also know the identity of one bidder that’s been eliminated from the process- the Saudi Media Group, who have are among those to be told they didn’t make the cut. Which brings us to the bidder which has received the most public attention- the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs.
There has been a massive public backlash against the Ricketts, with the hashtag #NoToRicketts trending strongly on social media on Tuesday. Reportedly, they are still waiting to hear whether or not they had progressed to the next round, despite having flown to London to meet with the Chelsea Supporter’s Trust. While their ownership of the Cubs has rightfully given a huge portion of the supporter base some pause, you can’t count them out yet, due to whom with which they’re aligned.
Ricketts is backed by Ken Griffin, CEO of Hedge Fund Citadel Group, and he’s the highest net worth individual who is involved in the bidding process.
So who else is in the mix to buy the current reigning European champions? You have British-based Nick Candy, who has the backing of big money South Korea investors. There is also Centricus and Aethel Partners, who are based in London. Will they have home field advantage” so to speak?
We should know a whole lot more by early next week.
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.”