The owners of the Chicago Cubs said Wednesday that they will make a bid to buy Premier League club Chelsea.
The Ricketts family went public with its interest in the buyout with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich forced to sell up after he was sanctioned by the British government and banned by the Premier League over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the war on Ukraine.
In a statement released by a London-based communications firm, the Ricketts family said it was leading an investment group that will make its formal bid for the reigning world and European champions on Friday.
“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community,” the statement said. “We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course.”
The British government is allowing Chelsea, as a frozen asset of Abramovich’s, to continue playing under restrictions of a special license. The government now has oversight of the buyout process which the Raine Group, an investment bank, has been working on since Abramovich last week announced, before having his assets frozen, that the west London club was up for sale.
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.
British property developer Nick Candy has also expressed an interest in bidding while former British Airways chairman Michael Broughton is leading a consortium – which includes track great Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics – that also is set to submit a bid.
Broughton brokered the sale of Liverpool in 2010.
“I am certain that Sir Martin is the right man to lead Chelsea Football Club into its next chapter,” Coe, a Chelsea fan like Broughton, said in a statement released Wednesday. “He has an exceptional track record in British business, as well as unrivaled experience in shepherding Liverpool out of a very difficult situation. He has the vision, acumen and financial backing to ensure our club’s future success, keeping Chelsea Football Club at the top of European football and challenging for trophies.”
The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $845 million in 2009, and in 2016 the franchise won its first World Series title since 1908. The family fortune was made by Joe Ricketts as chairman of electronic trading platform TD Ameritrade. His son, Tom Ricketts, serves as Cubs chairman.
Chelsea has lost sponsors since Abramovich was sanctioned. Jersey backer Three, a communications firm, expressed unease Wednesday its logo has yet to be removed from the Nike-produced clothing.
“We understand from discussions with Chelsea FC that there are ongoing issues with removing the Three logo from the shirts, as a result of kit supply issues and license restrictions,” Three said in a statement. “We have requested that Chelsea reverts with a solution to this issue as soon as possible.”
Rob Harris/The Associated Press