British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has bid 5.3 billion for Chelsea FC

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has bid 5.3 billion for Chelsea FC

The sale of Premier League football team Chelsea began when the British government approved its Russian owner for a relationship with the Kremlin, which was already the sale of the strangest team in recent sports history. On Friday, it suddenly became the most ambiguous, when one of Britain’s richest men took to the field with a bold bid that ended a process that seemed to be coming to an end.

The offer, made by billionaire CEO Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos, a major chemical company, was worth 5. 5.3 billion, and would represent the highest ever paid for a sports team. His arrival disrupted the sales process, which took several weeks to complete. Doubting the possibility of a speedy, and clean, transfer of ownership; And a new drama in the future of one of the richest and most successful football clubs in the world.

By the end of the day, in fact, it was not clear whether Ratcliffe’s bid would be successful, or whether it would be welcome.

Citing anonymous sources, according to several published reports on Friday, a different bid led by Todd Bohley, owner of a Los Angeles Dodgers division, was given exclusive rights to negotiate the purchase of the team. The New York Times was unable to confirm the status quo, until at least one other proprietorship group confirmed that it had been told it was running.

Ratcliffe, meanwhile, suddenly emerged from the shadows. It formulated its 11th Hour offer as a “British bid for a British club” – a clear attempt by the British government to separate it from the three rival US contenders, which would not allow any sale due to sanctions. Give your blessings. .

The timing of Ratcliffe’s proposal and how it was announced was extremely public. May indicate difficulties. Sale by Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Ratcliffe’s late intervention also increases the likelihood of an ugly condemnation of an action that has been surrounded by confusion and chaos from the outset, its entire game in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Abramovich’s Russian president Vladimir. V was against the relationship. Putin

Chelsea, the reigning European champions, have long been considered by the British government to be close to Putin’s close ties to Abramovich and to impose strict sanctions on his fortune as part of a broader set of sanctions against a group of Russian oligarchs. , Was sent at once. Abramovich, who has spent more than 2 billion on Chelsea since buying the team in 2003, announced in March that he would sell the team while examining his ties with Russia. The sale became inevitable after the British government froze Abramovich’s assets.

Ratcliffe’s offer includes a pledge to raise more than $ 3 billion in a charitable foundation that Abramovich said he would set up to accept proceeds from the sale. (Abramovich is prohibited from receiving any sales proceeds under the current sanctions.) But Ratcliffe has also pledged to spend more than $ 2 billion to ensure that the team reaches the top of the world football elite. Maintain your position.

Ratcliffe said in a statement issued by Ineos, “We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not by making a profit.” “We do this with our core business. The club has its roots in its community and its fans. And that’s why we intend to invest in Chelsea FC.”

Under Abramovich, Chelsea have become one of the biggest and most successful teams in world football. It has come at a hefty price, though, since Abramovich, an unknown Russian businessman at the time, took control of the club in 2003 and the team has lost about ً 1 million a week.

Ratcliffe, whose wealth may be more than Abramovich’s fortune, has suggested that he would be willing to do the same. But it was not clear on Friday whether his offer would be heard, or if a different bid could first be approved by Abramovich, the British government and the Premier League.

The government will need to issue a license, as Chelsea has been allowed to continue operating despite orders to freeze Abramovich’s other assets and companies as a condition of any sale. The Premier League must also approve all new owners.

As part of his offer, Ratcliffe said he would pay 2.5 2.5 billion, or 1 3.1 billion, to a charitable trust “to help war victims.” The language was similar to that used by Abramovich when he announced that he was offering Chelsea for sale, but it was unclear how such a charity would operate, or whether British officials would comment. How to ensure that no revenue reaches Abramovich or his entourage.

Ratcliffe also promised to invest another 1 2.1 billion over Chelsea over the next 10 years, a figure that would include the restoration of the club’s old Stamford Bridge stadium, another condition for any new owner, Abramovich. Is.

Chelsea will not be investing in sports, or even the first step in football, for Ratcliffe, who has been a self-proclaimed fan of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Manchester United since his school days. He already owns the French professional football club OGC Nice, located near his home in Monaco, and has a team at FC Lousanne-Sport, Switzerland. But buying Chelsea would be very different for someone who is known for having a low profile.

“We think there should be a club in London that reflects the stature of the city,” Ratcliffe said. “One that is held in reference to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We want to make Chelsea that club.

His bold and seemingly immovable offer must have angered a group of American-backed bidders who spent weeks in a complex auction designed by Raine co-founder Joe Reuch. The deadline for final bids was extended several times, and then this weekend the other three investment groups were asked to add another $ 600 million to their bids.

The sales situation was already one of the strangest events seen in professional sports, a beauty pageant that brought together some of the richest people in the world, but also celebrity players and unknown personalities who sold it. Appear to be intended to be used to enhance your profiles. .

Bohley’s bid to secure his British contacts by associating himself with a number of well-connected Britons, including former British Treasury Secretary George Osborne, to secure Chelsea since Abramovich’s announcement. She is working so hard that she will leave the club. Bohli and her partners avoided the mistakes that proved costly for the other boys – to be at the forefront this week.

Bohley’s group was challenged by a broad consortium bankrolled by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, members of the ownership group that controls the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, who recently hired Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams. Had added to his ranks.

The third finalist was a group led by Steve Paglioca, co-owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. The Pagliuca consortium includes Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, who owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, hockey’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC, but confirmed on Friday that he had been told that His bid is no longer under consideration.

For Chelsea players, staff and fans, the sale could not be quicker. The club has been operating under extraordinary financial constraints since the announcement of sanctions against Abramovich. Special government licenses that allow the team to operate have the club keep up to 10,000 unsold tickets for its domestic games, and allow the team to limit its travel budget and the team’s online and brick and mortar. Mortar stores have been forced to close.

“It would be ideal,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tochel acknowledged after Sunday’s victory. “But you can’t pull the grass so it grows fast.”

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