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Laura Ricketts reveals plans for Chelsea in first statement: We strive to be champions both on and off the field

16:30 GMT+3 07/04/2022
Laura and Tom Ricketts at Chelsea Women's match
Roman Abramovich is selling the club after being sanctioned and one unpopular bidder has moved to allay supporters' fears

Laura Ricketts has spoken about her family's meetings ahead of their final bid to buy Chelsea and moved again to reassure supporters about their record on diversity. 

It comes after the Ricketts Family Investment Group, which features backing from Citadel Founder Ken Griffin and one of America's richest men Dan Gilbert, has proven unpopular with the club's support. 

In fact, only three percent of Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST) members said they would back the bid led by the owners of the historic Major League Baseball (MLB) team Chicago Cubs. Three other rival billionaire bidders are seeking to secure Chelsea after making their final bids on April 11.  

What did she say?

"We have had a memorable few days in London, taking the opportunity to meet as many people as possible from a wide variety of backgrounds," Laura Ricketts, who is the face of the bid alongside her brother Tom, said in her first statement.

"Obviously, I can’t comment on talks we had with Chelsea officials because that has to remain confidential. But I can say we had very informative and enjoyable meetings with some passionate fan groups – in particular with Tracy Brown from Chelsea Pride and Kerrie Evans from Chelsea Women Supporters Group.

"We also met Sanjay Bhandari, the Chair of Kick It Out, and it was wonderful to hear about all the work he’s doing. We admire their approach and would like to introduce them to Major League Baseball.

"I was also thrilled to go to the Chelsea Women’s game at the weekend and I flew in early to make the match. It was a joy to see the incredible athletic talent of the Chelsea Women and to also experience the supporters’ amazing energy at Kingsmeadow.

"Much of my life’s work has been about empowering and supporting women, so to see these young women playing at this level was a real treat for me. It was also so great to see all the families who were at the game.

"Sport has such power to bring communities together and family is at the heart of the community. Some of the girls there reminded me of my 11-year-old daughter. For young girls to see the Chelsea Women on the pitch can be inspiring and empowering to them.

"In recent weeks, we’ve also had several valuable conversations with the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust. I appreciate their passion for Chelsea and the important questions they’ve raised. I look forward to continuing the good conversations we’ve begun.

"We all need to be listening and speaking up, and I feel a particular responsibility because of the position I’m in. We’re not going to be able to persuade all the fans right away that we will be good stewards of Chelsea – we’re going to have to show them with meaningful action if we are successful in our bid.

"But I can assure all Chelsea fans that it has been my life’s work to fight against discrimination and bigotry of any kind.

"Coming out as an LGBTQ+ woman has influenced my perspective and sensitivity about diversity and inclusion. I can’t know what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes, but I can begin to understand and have an awareness of their different experience. And that’s a gift. In the position that I’m in, I feel a sense of responsibility to be an advocate. To me, being an advocate means speaking up, and also listening.

"When we assumed responsibility for the Chicago Cubs and its legacy, we immediately realised that teams like the Cubs don’t belong to one person or organisation. They belong to the fans. We’re stewards – and we’re answerable to the fans. That’s how we see it in Chicago – and it would be exactly the same at Chelsea.

"There is such power in sport for community building and to bring diverse people together. At Cubs Charities, we have developed our own sport-based youth development programming that engages young people and families in under-served communities. As the Chair of Cubs Charities, I am proud of our work and the impact it has on so many lives.

"Here, the Chelsea Foundation already makes a significant impact and I would hope we could help build on this. We strive to be champions both on and off the field. It’s what makes Chelsea great, and is a tradition we would honour if we were to become the club’s next stewards."

Are the Ricketts family favourites?

Those close to the process seem to believe that they are among two favourites of the four main options.

The Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly is leading a bid that seems to be a strong competitor and it has backing from Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and UK investor Jonathan Goldstein.

Boehly was pictured at Stamford Bridge during Chelsea's 3-1 home defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Boston Celtics and Atalanta owner Stephen Pagliuca is trying to buy Chelsea, along with Josh Harris and David Blitzer who own the Philadelphia 76ers and a small stake in Crystal Palace.

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