When Roman Abramovich sells Chelsea FC to whomever wins the bidding process, it is widely expected to be the biggest club sale in the history of professional sports. We do know that we’re down to the short list now of potential owners, but we can’t confirm completely who is on that list. It would appear that the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball, are probably on that short list, as they are aligned with multi-billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin.
Or maybe they’re not on the list, as the Ricketts family flew to London to try and better their chances of closing the deal. They have plenty of work to do, given how the club supporter backlash against them is so strong right now.
The Ricketts are going to meet with the Chelsea Supporters Trust, as well as the Chelsea Pitch Owners, according to the Daily Mail.
According to ESPN, the family patriarch, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, is not actually part of their bid. Their initiative is instead being led by his three children: Tom (the Cubs Chairman), Todd (the current Republican National Committee Finance Chairman) and Laura (Tom’s wife). New York-based merchant bank Raine Group now is identifying the “preferred bidders,” with only two to four expected to advance to the next round of bidding.
There are many reasons why the Ricketts family is being met with such strong opposition from such a large portion of the Chelsea fan base, including a leaked email exchange several years ago in which Joe Ricketts said that “Muslims are naturally our enemy” and “Islam is a cult and not a religion.”
Current owner Roman Abramovich, a close crony of Vladimir Putin, has previously stated that he’ll donate proceeds from the sale to the victims of the war in Ukraine.
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.”