Chelsea FC is likely to attract the highest fee ever paid for a sports team when the club’s sale finally goes through in the coming weeks.
The deadline for bids passed over the weekend after current owner Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale before being hit with sanctions by the UK government – a result of his alleged close ties to Russia and president Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.
There had been concerns that the optics of doing business with the oligarch would deter certain buyers, and that Abramovich’s £4bn valuation was unlikely to be met with a quick sale required while the asset was frozen.
However, as many as 20 interested parties are believed to have submitted bids for the club and according to The Athletic some suitors will even raise their offers to £3bn or even £4bn, which would make it the most expensive sports team purchase in history.
That sum would comfortably eclipse the current highest sum: the $3.35bn (£2.5bn) that was paid by Joseph Tsai to purchase the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and their home arena in 2019.
The report adds that bids for the club continued to arrive over the weekend despite Friday’s deadline passing, although those are not considered to be viable options.
The Ricketts family – owners of the Chicago Cubs – and a consortium involving the LA Dodgers’ co-owner Todd Boehly are believed to be the frontrunners at this stage. British billionaire and Chelsea fan Nick Candy has also confirmed a bid alongside a consortium.
The transaction is being handled by New York-based merchant bank Raine Group, who will attempt to narrow down the bidders to three or four by the end of this week before improved offers are encouraged with a view to completing a deal by mid-April.