Chelsea sale: Late £4bn bid made by Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe’s bid came as Boston Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca confirmed that he was out of the running to buy the Premier League club

Karl Matchett
Friday 29 April 2022 16:22 BST
(Getty Images)

The race to buy Chelsea FC took a dramatic turn on Friday, as Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe confirmed that he had made a late bid to buy the club from Roman Abramovich while American investor Steve Pagliuca said he was out of the running.

The west London side has been up for sale since just before the Russian oligarch was sanctioned by the government in March as a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine and his links to Vladimir Putin.

Ratcliffe’s offer is worth £4bn, including £2.5bn for the initial purchase and a further £1.75bn across 10 years to fund improvements to the stadium and team, report The Times.

“We put an offer in this morning,” Ratcliffe said. “We are the only British bid. Our motives are simply to try and create a very fine club in London. We have no profit motive because we make our money in other ways.”

The same report further clarified that discussions had been held by Ratcliffe with both Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, and the government.

Before Ratcliffe’s late offer, three bids were under consideration by New York merchant bank The Raine Group, but a spokesperson for Boston Celtics owner Pagliuca said on Friday that his group is out of the race.

It leaves Ratcliffe’s bid up against that LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and the consortium fronted by Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe.

While the latter is fronted by the British former IAG deputy chairman Broughton, the group making up the total investment appears wide-ranging and the full list of involved parties is not yet confirmed. Recently, seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and American tennis legend Serena Williams were both revealed to be pledging £10m to the total pool.

Ineos is a privately owned multinational chemical company based in London, with a history of involvement in elite sports.

They sponsor the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team and have a primary link-up with Mercedes in Formula One, as well as Ineos Team UK in sailing.

Ineos are also the owners of French Ligue 1 side OGC Nice, with Ratcliffe’s brother Bob revealing in 2019 that they considered an offer for Chelsea at that time too. As recently as March, Ratcliffe denied there was any truth to reports linking him with a bid for the Blues.

While there is no clarification yet on the structure of ownership even if Ratcliffe’s bid is successful, Uefa rules would mean both Nice - fifth in Ligue 1 with five games to play - and Chelsea - third in the Premier League - could not play in the Champions League or other European competition in the same season, if they were owned by the same entity.

An Ineos statement said:

“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club. We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses. The club is rooted in its community and its fans. And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea FC for that reason.”

Current owner Abramovich is not allowed to profit from the sale and prior to listing it for sale had already attempted to place the keeping of Chelsea with the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.

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