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Thomas Tuchel

Who is winning the 27-strong race to buy Chelsea FC from Roman Abramovich?

20:49 EAT 17/03/2022
Chelsea celebrate Lille 2021-22
The Blues are said to have 27 bids as late proposals arrive during the last 24 hours of the procurement process

Roman Abramovich's sale of Chelsea through US investment bank Raine Group enters the final stages with the last remaining bidders entering the fray. 

There are thought to be 27 billionaire consortiums, hedge funds and other high net worth players registering their monetary bids with their plans for the future attached. 

The deadline is on Friday at 9pm UK time (5pm EST) for the majority partners to officially submit their proposals and offers, at which point they will be narrowed down to just a few before a final decision is made. 

What do those trying to buy Chelsea need to do?

First of all, this is not necessarily a bidding war, with the winners to be chosen more on their ability to run a major sports organisation.

Any offers to include part-fan ownership or a place on the board for supporters will be welcomed, but it won't be a requirement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

They also want potential buyers to commit to maintaining the activity in the women's team, academy and Chelsea Foundation.

Alongside that, any proposals to develop Stamford Bridge, which remains small for a club of Chelsea's size would also be seen in a positive light.

Who are the main players trying to buy Chelsea FC?

The first group to go public about buying Chelsea were Todd Boehly and Hansjorg Wyss, who have since added London property developer Jonathan Goldstein to their ranks. 

They have also brought in Danny Finkelstein, a former UK government adviser, and Barbara Charone, a PR executive with clients including Madonna, Rod Stewart and Foo Fighters, to their ranks as non-executive board directors should their bid become successful. The pair are two of the Blues' most high-profile supporters and regularly attend home matches. 

The Ricketts family, who own Major League Baseball (MLB) team the Chicago Cubs, have linked up with hedge fund leader Ken Griffin to make an offer. 

Also from the United States is Woody Johnson, who owns the NFL's New York Jets. He is said to have launched a £2bn ($2.6bn) bid for the west Londoners. 

There's offers from the United Kingdom with Aethel Partners, a financial institution in London, offering a £2bn ($2.6bn) proposal with a further £50 million ($66m) to be immediately released to cover the costs of this uncertain period. Although UK-based, the firm is headed by Portuguese entrepreneur Ricardo Silva.

London luxury property developer and Chelsea supporter Nick Candy has been very public about his interest in buying Chelsea. He is currently working with Blues legend Gianluca Vialli's company Tifosy Capital and Advisory to help raise funds. 

Lord Sebastian Coe, a Conservative Member of Parliament, Chelsea supporter and former Athletics athlete, is in the running to buy the Blues with fellow fan and former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton

Creative Artists Agency's investment bank Evolution Media Capital is also backing Broughton and Coe. There are fears that it could be seen as insider trading, with CAA owning the world's biggest football agency.

Outside of the UK and US are other players, with the most notable option being Saudi Media. The private consortium led by Chelsea supporting Mohamed Alkhereiji, who is also the CEO of the parent company Engineer Holding Group. 

Although Alkhereiji has worked and lived in the UK for an extended period, it remains to be seen whether being from Saudi Arabia will adversely affect their bid. 

They have wide-reaching plans for Chelsea including replacing shirt sponsor Three with an option from the Middle East and redeveloping Stamford Bridge. 

South Korean C&P Sports Group and Hana Financial Group have said they have made a bid. C&P CEO Catalina Kim said: "We are preparing our bid. 

"There has never been investment into a top tier football club made by South Korean capital before. It is time for a change.”

Turkish billionaire Muhsin Bayrak, chairman of AB Grup Holding, has been vocal in his interest and 'wants to fly the flag of Turkey at Stamford Bridge.' However, several sources have played down his role as a frontrunner. 

The FT have added that US investment company Oaktree have made an offer on Chelsea but sources close to the company refused to comment. 

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe has previously expressed an interest in buying Chelsea before securing French side Nice in 2019. However, he has since withdrawn his interest after Abramovich put the club up for sale.

There are thought to be almost a dozen other bids that have yet to be made public.

John Terry is leading a £250 million ($329m) from a secret 'True Blue' consortium to put the supporters at the heart of the club, through NFT and fan tokens. Similarly, a group called ChelseaDAO (a decentralised autonomous organisation) says they are trying to buy a 10% stake to allow supporters a say through fan tokens using the cryptocurrency Ethereum. 

When will we know the new owner?

It is hoped that it will be completed sooner rather than later to minimise costs being felt at the club. Every day that the club is sanctioned is damaging the Blues's bottom line and could lead to cash flow issues further down the line. 

There's an appetite to do a deal quickly to ensure Chelsea can become unsanctioned again so the club can operate as normal as soon as possible.

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