New York-based merchant bank Raine Group are overseeing the derby to purchase Chelsea Football Club from Roman Abramovich, with a deadline for final proposals now set for April 11. We’re down to the final four, with a bid from the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, getting the most public attention (and not in a good way).
Last weekend’s home loss to Brentford saw a group of Chelsea fans protest, on site at Stamford Bridge, the potential Ricketts takeover. The Chelsea Supporters Trust stated last week that 77% of its members do not support the idea of the Ricketts family owning the club.
Chelsea FC at Southampton FYIs
Kick: Sat Apr 9, 3pm, St. Mary’s
PL Form: Chelsea LWWWW Southampton DLLLW
PL Position: Chelsea 29mp, 59 pts, 3rd Southampton 30mp, 36pts 12th
Result Probability: Chelsea 50 Southampton 24% Draw 26%
A poll showed that 72% of CST members do not have confidence that the Nebraska based family, whose money came primarily from founding TD Ameritrade and then selling it to Charles Schwab, would run an inclusive and successful club.
That’s largely to 2009 emails, written by Joe Ricketts, the family patriarch, which were extremely Islamophobic and racist. Given Chelsea’s extensive ties to the Muslim community, worldwide on multiple levels, there is a significant degree of concern on this dimension.
Laura Ricketts, who came out as gay in the 1990s, issued a statement to ESPN, claiming her family is an inclusive one that combats discrimination and bigotry.
“We’re not going to be able to persuade all the fans right away that we will be good stewards of Chelsea — we’re going to have to show them with meaningful action if we are successful in our bid. But I can assure all Chelsea fans that it has been my life’s work to fight against discrimination and bigotry of any kind,” Laura Ricketts said.
“Coming out as an LGBTQ+ woman has influenced my perspective and sensitivity about diversity and inclusion. I can’t know what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes, but I can begin to understand and have an awareness of their different experience.
“And that’s a gift. In the position that I’m in, I feel a sense of responsibility to be an advocate. To me, being an advocate means speaking up, and also listening.”
It’s interesting to see Laura Ricketts speaking publicly, as Tom Ricketts is the typical public face of the family.
Joe Ricketts is the money. Laura Ricketts also commented on her meeting with Tracy Brown and Kerrie Evans from Chelsea Women Supporters Group.
“Obviously, I can’t comment on talks we had with Chelsea officials because that has to remain confidential, but I can say we had very informative and enjoyable meetings with some passionate fan groups,” the statement continued.
“We also met Sanjay Bhandari, the Chair of Kick It Out, and it was wonderful to hear about all the work he’s doing. We admire their approach and would like to introduce them to Major League Baseball.
“Tracy Brown reminded me of a lot of people I know and have worked with in Chicago — leaders who put themselves out there for their community.
“She loves Chelsea and wants herself and her community to be acknowledged and to have a voice. We agreed to stay in touch, starting with a Zoom next week with me and the Founder of Out at Wrigley, an annual LGBTQ+ event that the Cubs have hosted at Wrigley Field since 2001.”
Also in the final four of Chelsea bidding is a group led by Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.
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.”