Chelsea sale: Todd Boehly set to be preferred bidder despite late Sir Jim Ratcliffe offer

Ratcliffe’s offer came two weeks after the deadline to buy Chelsea was set by the Raine Group

Nick Purewal
Friday 29 April 2022 19:41
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<p>The eight-week saga of Chelsea’s sale appears to be coming to an end </p>

The eight-week saga of Chelsea’s sale appears to be coming to an end

Todd Boehly's consortium is expected to be named the preferred bidder in the race to buy Chelsea FC, the PA news agency understands.

The Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner's bid is now expected to win the battle to buy the Blues from Roman Abramovich.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 11th-hour bid for the Stamford Bridge club is thought to have complicated matters, but US business magnate Boehly is understood to remain on course for success.

A spokesperson for Boehly’s consortium refused to comment on Friday evening, but the chairman and chief executive of Eldridge Industries is thought to have taken a giant step towards becoming the new Chelsea owner.

Boehly has paired up with fellow Dodgers owner Mark Walter, British businessman Jonathan Goldstein, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and US investment firm Clearlake Capital in their offer for the Blues.

It is understood that the consortium’s total bid was in excess of £4bn. This includes a pledge to spend £1.5bn to develop the club and Stamford Bridge, on top of meeting Raine’s valuation of around £2.5bn.

Ineos owner and founder Sir Jim’s last-ditch £4.25bn offer to buy the Blues on Friday added another late twist to the eight-week saga of Chelsea’s very public sale process.

“We put an offer in this morning,” Ratcliffe told The Times.

“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.”

Ineos added in a statement: “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.”

But despite a compelling offer from the British billionaire, who had conducted extensive due diligence on Chelsea in 2019 before opting not to make an offer on the club, Boehly’s bid is now expected to succeed.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group has conducted the sale of the club, and must now present Boehly’s consortium as the preferred bidder to the UK government.

Todd Boehly’s consortium put forward a bid thought to be in excess of £4bn

Boehly and his partners must pass the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test, before Downing Street chiefs will issue a new licence to allow the sale to be completed.

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

The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK government on 10 March, with Downing Street claiming to have proven links between the Russian-Israeli billionaire and Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich has owned Chelsea for 19 years, leading the club to 21 trophies in a glittering tenure.

He cannot profit from Chelsea‘s sale, and the proceeds of the transaction will either be frozen or directed into a charitable fund for victims of the war in Ukraine.

Boehly, Sir Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca were the three bidders taken forward into the final stage of the sale process, until Sir Jim’s last-ditch offer.

Former British Airways and Liverpool chairman Sir Martin’s offer was backed by Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams.

A group led by American investor Pagliuca said they had been told by Raine on Friday they were not the “preferred bidder” so were out of contention.

Pagliuca had teamed up with NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum, whose Canadian company Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment owns a number of professional sports franchises in Toronto.

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