Ricketts family attempt to allay fears over bid with Chelsea supporters

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts will return to London for further meetings with supporters.

Nick Purewal
Thursday 31 March 2022 16:18
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Chelsea supporters will take protests on the club’s ownership to Stamford Bridge, pictured (John Walton/PA)
Chelsea supporters will take protests on the club’s ownership to Stamford Bridge, pictured (John Walton/PA)

The Ricketts family will continue talks with Chelsea supporters amid attempts to allay fan fears over the Chicago Cubs owners’ bid to buy the Blues, the PA news agency understands.

Tom Ricketts met with Paul Canoville last week, Chelsea’s first black player, to apologise for father Joe Ricketts’ historic Islamophobic comments and set out his vision for the Stamford Bridge club’s future.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts will return to London for further meetings with supporters, it is understood, while Chelsea fans have organised a protest before Saturday’s Premier League clash with Brentford.

An online petition against the Ricketts family’s candidacy to buy Chelsea has already received more than 17,000 signatures.

But the Ricketts family is understood to remain confident in their proposal to buy the west London club – and their ability to calm fan concerns.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has numbered among those calling for the Ricketts family to respond to concerns publicly.

But bid principal Tom Ricketts is understood to be limited in what can be voiced, with the Cubs chairman respecting requests from Chelsea and sale advisors the Raine Group to restrict public overtures.

The Ricketts’ bid leaders will continue to meet with prominent Chelsea supporters and groups, and are understood to have been encouraged by conversations so far.

Family patriarch Joe Ricketts branded Muslims “my enemy” in leaked emails in 2019. Ricketts senior has no involvement in the bid to buy Chelsea.

Tom Ricketts worked hard to build links with Chicago’s Muslim community, and has continued to apologise for his father’s comments.

Brother Pete Ricketts has been linked to anti-LGBTQ sentiment, but is not involved in the Chelsea bid – but sister Laura Ricketts is the first openly gay owner of a major American sports franchise with the Cubs.

Laura Ricketts is a major campaigner for LGBTQ rights, and has a prominent role in the Cubs’ charitable foundation.

Roman Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Vladimir Putin.

Chelsea have been granted a special Government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.

Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5billion debt.

LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and British business titan Jonathan Goldstein, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe, the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are the four remaining contenders.

All four bidders are busy fine-tuning their submissions, and could yet raise the value of their offers for the Blues.

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