Todd Boehly’s consortium is expected to be chosen as the preferred bidder in the race to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, but the uncertainty over the process has not gone away after Sir Jim Ratcliffe announced that he had made a late offer worth more than £ 4bn.
Ratcliffe, the owner of the British petrochemicals company Ineos, revealed on Friday that he had made his move to buy the European champions a fortnight after the deadline. The offer would see Britain’s richest man pay £ 2.5bn for Chelsea and included a pledge to invest £ 1.75bn in the club over the next 10 years.
It is unclear whether Ratcliffe’s decision to enter the bidding was communicated in time to Raine, the American bank handling the sale. Sources close to the process believe that the group fronted by Boehly, the part-owner of the LA Dodgers, had seen off competition from rival bidders. Those claims came after Steve Pagliuca’s consortium and Sir Martin Broughton’s group were informed they were out of the running.
Sources close to Boehly’s team said earlier this week that the group were increasingly confident. Yet it remains to be seen whether Boehly, who has partnered with fellow Dodgers owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, British property developer Jonathan Goldstein and US investment firm Clearlake Capital, has been granted exclusivity. A spokesperson for the consortium refused to comment, with insiders saying Ratcliffe’s bid could still alter the picture. A source close to Abramovich said that Ratcliffe had the financial clout to buy Chelsea.
The bidders have been waiting for clarity after final talks with the club at Stamford Bridge this week. They faced a late demand from Abramovich to raise their offers by £ 500m to meet the Russian oligarch’s £ 3bn valuation. It was suggested that the extra funds would be donated to charity as part of Abramovich’s promise to give away all net proceeds from the sale. The bidders had already been asked to provide commitments to invest about £ 1bn in Chelsea’s stadium and squad.
Abramovich, who has also vowed to write off £ 1.5bn in loans he has given to Chelsea since 2003, pledged to donate the net proceeds of the sale to all victims of the war in Ukraine before he was sanctioned by the British government last month. Ministers have insisted he will not be allowed to make anything from the sale.
Chelsea have been in limbo since sanctions were imposed on Abramovich. They cannot buy or sell players and cannot hand out new contracts. Thomas Tuchel, the manager of the men’s team, believes the sanctions have influenced Antonio Rüdiger’s decision to join Real Madrid on a free this summer.
Indications that the takeover is moving towards a conclusion would be a boost for Tuchel. Boehly’s group have been waiting patiently. If successful their bid would see Tory peer Daniel Finkelstein and publicist Barbora Charone become non-executive directors.
Ratcliffe’s bid came as a surprise given that the billionaire has previously said there is no value in buying Premier League clubs. That view appears to have changed, though Ratcliffe has looked at buying Chelsea from Abramovich in the past.
Ineos, which would have to sell its stake in Nice if the Chelsea bid is successful, said in a statement: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of Ineos, has made a formal bid for Chelsea FC, for £ 4.25bn. £ 2.5bn is committed to the Charitable Trust to support war victims, with £ 1.75bn committed to investing directly into the club over the next 10 years. This is a British bid, for a British club. ”
Ineos, who has taken over the former Team Sky cycling team and has a stake in the Mercedes Formula One team, said there would be investment in Stamford Bridge, the men’s and women’s first teams and the academy.
“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city,” it said. “One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club. ”