Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca enters the $4B race to buy Chelsea.
Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca’s bid to take over Chelsea is one of four revealed to have been shortlisted on Friday.
US billionaire Todd Boehly’s consortium and another American group that includes David Blitzer, Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris and British politician Sebastian Coe are now also among the frontrunners to take over from Roman Abramovich.
And according to The Athletic, Pagliuca, 67, who also owns 55 percent of Serie A’s Atalanta and co-chairs the private equity group Bain Capital, is a serious and genuine contender to buy the club.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, have also been shortlisted to become Chelsea owners despite widespread public concern about their potential ownership.
Their collective bid was blasted by the public, including Chelsea fans, after anti-Muslim comments made by family patriarch Joe Ricketts in 2019 emerged. However, their partnership with hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin has made their offer financially attractive.
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said on Friday it ‘still has concerns about the ability of the Ricketts family to run an inclusive, successful club.
The CST added: ‘If they are unable to address these and gain the confidence of supporters, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our members for the bid to succeed.’
Tom Ricketts responded by offering a statement thanking the fans for ‘sharing their passion and concerns’.
He said: ‘We have listened to all of your feedback and are grateful that the door is still open for us to demonstrate our commitment to working with fans to protect the club’s heritage. It is now up to us to redouble our efforts and clearly lay out a vision for our stewardship of the club with diversity and inclusion at its heart.’
The consortium led by Boehly have been informed they have made the shortlist of preferred bidders to buy Chelsea.
The group led by Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Coe – but heavily funded by Crystal Palace shareholders David Blitzer and Josh Harris – have also made the second round. It is thought they would need to sell their shares in Palace if they were successful, potentially to avoid a conflict of interest.
Bids from Boehly, and Harris and Blitzer, were revealed as being shortlisted on Thursday from the original collection of around six bids, with further information emerging about the bids from the Ricketts family and Pagliuca emerging on Friday.
The $4 billion battle to buy Chelsea has intensified with Roman Abramovich’s sales advisers dismissing several bidders from the process.
The Raine Group, the finance firm running the auction for the club, are understood to have told a number of would-be buyers — including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, the Saudi Media Group and Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak — that their bids will not make it to the next stage.
Global investment firm Centricus’ bid has been ruled out, reportedly due to concerns of their financial capabilities.
The field appears to have narrowed considerably and looks like being dominated by American billionaires who already own sports franchises in the United States.
Ex-Liverpool chairman Broughton and fellow Chelsea fan Lord Coe have been presented as the public face of the bid from the larger American group funded by Harris and Blitzer, although the bulk of the funding is believed to be coming from Harris and another major NBA figure, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.
British property developer Nick Candy, whose Blue Football Consortium contains backing from South Korean financial institutions and a tie-up with Gianluca Vialli’s investment fund, was hopeful of staying in the race but now appears to be out of contention.
On a day of considerable confusion and some acrimony, disappointed bidders demanded explanations for being ruled out, which delayed the process of beginning the next round of the auction and caused frustration elsewhere.
Raine are believed to have encouraged some of the competing groups to merge in an attempt to secure a bigger fee that will also be politically acceptable to the Government.
Candy is understood to have been approached by several parties, including the Ricketts family, about a joint venture with talks having continued on Thursday night.
Whoever buys Chelsea will require the Government’s consent in the form of a special licence to proceed with the sale, as well as to gain the approval of the Premier League by passing their owners’ and directors’ test, which can take as little as 10 days but took 17 weeks for the Saudi state-backed takeover of Newcastle United.
The Saudi Media Group claimed their bid for Chelsea did not include any state funding, but the need for a quick sale and the Premier League’s sensitivity to fears of a conflict of interest counted against them.
The BBC report their understanding that bids are being assessed on: their valuation of the club, their working capital commitment, their source of funds, the speed and certainty with which they can close the transaction and their background in sport.