EXPLAINER: Bids arrive ahead of Chelsea sale deadline day

Mar 16, 2022, 10:27 PM | Updated: Mar 17, 2022, 10:28 am
Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal d...

Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League, second leg, round of 16, soccer match between Lille and Chelsea at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, northern France, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

LONDON (AP) — For sale: One Premier League club. Condition: Distressed. Value: $2 billion-plus.

Deadline day is Friday for bids to be submitted to buy Chelsea and end the 19-year ownership of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

This is a sale enforced on the oligarch after he was sanctioned by the British government for his close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

WHO IS BIDDING?

There has been a stream of bidders going public with their interest.

The Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, have linked up with hedge fund manager Ken Griffin in a consortium. The family fortune was made by Joe Ricketts as chairman of electronic trading platform TD Ameritrade. His son, Tom Ricketts, serves as Cubs chairman.

Anther consortium weighing a bid features Todd Boehly, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein, a London-based property investor who is CEO of Cain International. Danny Finkelstein, a columnist with The Times of London and who sits in the House of Lords representing the Conservative Party, announced Thursday he was joining the bid.

“These are smart guys, who don’t just have the money to invest, they get how to use it,” Finkelstein said in a statement. “They understand about data and they understand about fans. I’m really excited about the plans for fan involvement which I believe in strongly. I want Chelsea to be pioneers.”

Michael Broughton, the former chairman of Liverpool and British Airways, is leading a consortium that includes track great Sebastian Coe, who is president of World Athletics, an IOC member and a Chelsea fan.

British property developer Nick Candy has also expressed an interest in bidding and was very visible at Sunday’s Premier League game against Newcastle.

The latest interest was publicly registered by investment firm Aethel Partners, which is headed by Portuguese entrepreneur Ricardo Silva and has offered to inject 50 million pounds immediately after a buyout to ease any cash-flow issues.

WHO IS OVERSEEING THE SALE?

The Raine Group, a New York-based investment bank. But it can only proceed with the approval of the British government, which is allowing the club to continue playing through a special license restricting its ability to spend and generate income.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PROCEEDS?

Abramovich cannot profit in any way from the sale, with his assets frozen in Britain.

He has said he would write off the loans of more than 1.5 billion pounds ($2 billion) from the funding he pumped into the club to spend on the players and coaches who produced 21 trophies during his reign. That commitment was made as pressure grew on Abramovich following the start of the war three weeks ago but before he was sanctioned.

The funds of a sale could be placed into an escrow account until it is determined where they should go — potentially to a charity. Before being sanctioned, Abramovich had said the proceeds would go into a foundation “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.” Abramovich didn’t specify if Russians impacted could also benefit, and he has yet to condemn the war or Putin.

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EXPLAINER: Bids arrive ahead of Chelsea sale deadline day