Time is starting to tick for Chelsea’s next owner, whoever that might be. March 15 is the deadline for them to make their offer to buy the club from Roman Abramovich and over the next six days, we might see some billionaires scrambling to get their bids in.
The Russian has hired the Raine Group, an American merchant bank, to help oversee the sale and any interested party must submit their offer to them by next Tuesday. It is believed around 20 parties have expressed an interest but only a handful are deemed credible.
Abramovich is in a rush to sell, though, as he could be sanctioned by the British Government as soon as next week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and his business partner Todd Boehly, part owner of LA Dodgers, are in the running and have made their offer. A new name is British tycoon Nick Candy, who Sportsmail reported on Tuesday is set to table a £2.5bn bid by the end of the week.
Abramovich believes Chelsea is worth over £3billion but accepts that price is highly unlikely to be met. Sportsmail also reported last week that a source close to Abramovich expressed scepticism about all the bidders who have publicly revealed their hands to date.
But time marches on and the deadline is approaching. Sportsmail assesses the names linked with taking the reins from Abramovich so far.
Prospective buyers have until March 15 to file their bids to take Chelsea off the hands of Roman Abramovich, who wants to sell the club before he is potentially sanctioned by the UK government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Todd Boehly and Hansjorg Wyss
The duo laid their cards on the table and made their offer on Tuesday but Abramovich is said to be reserving judgement until a full review of the bid has been made. At this moment in time, he isn’t sure if the duo are the right fit for Chelsea’s future.
Boehly is a businessman and part owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team, where he holds a 20 per cent stake. He tried to buy Chelsea three years ago with a £2.2bn bid.
Wyss, 86, is a Swiss billionaire who made his fortune in manufacturing medical equipment and devices and has a net worth of just under £5bn.
All the early signs suggest that while the duo hold a genuine interest in Chelsea, Abramovich is unconvinced by the public nature of their interest and over their ability to move the club forward. He said he is selling Chelsea with a heavy heart and wants assurances from the next owner over their intentions.
That said, Boehly and Wyss do seem to have the funds and with Abramovich in a hurry to get a deal over the line before sanctions bite, can he afford to get too picky?
Serious contender rating: 5/10
Tycoons Hansjorg Wyss (left) and Todd Boehly (right) have made an offer to buy Chelsea
A new name in the running, after Sportsmail reported his interest on Tuesday night. A Chelsea fan and season-ticket holder, his interest comes alongside a £1.5bn plan to renovate Stamford Bridge, something which would tick the box of taking care of the club’s future which Abramovich wants to see in a prospective buyer.
Stadium plans might particularly appeal to Abramovich, as well. It was something he looked into himself and was prepared to pay up to £2bn to modernise Stamford Bridge which he felt in turn would secure his Chelsea legacy.
Nick Candy, pictured with wife Holly Vallance, is a Chelsea season ticket holder and a lifelong fan of the club
Chelsea announced plans to build a 60,000-seater stadium on the same site in 2015 and received planning permission following a lengthy battle with local residents two years later. But the project was scrapped in 2018 after Abramovich’s visa renewal was blocked by the government in light of the Salisbury poisonings.
‘We are looking at what the art of the possible is,’ Candy told The Telegraph on Wednesday about his interest.
Candy and his younger brother Christian are British luxury-property developers, estimated to share a joint net worth of £1.5billion. He will pour some of his own worth into the takeover but is also in talks with American investors about forming a consortium.
Candy is married to the actress and singer Holly Vallance and they have two children together.
A spokesperson for Candy told Sportsmail: ‘Mr Candy has a huge affinity with Chelsea. His father was asked to play for the club and he has been watching matches at Stamford Bridge since the age of four. The club deserves a world class stadium and infrastructure and Mr Candy’s unique expertise and background in real estate would be a hugely valuable asset to delivering this vision.’
Serious contender rating: 7/10
Candy (left) is talking to a number of American investors about forming a consortium
Interest from the owner of the NBA team Sacramento Kings surfaced on Tuesday when Sportico claimed that Vivek Ranadive is putting the finishing touches to an offer that he plans to submit.
This could be an interesting one to watch. Ranadive has the sporting pedigree that could impress Abramovich – he has been owner of the Kings since 2013, buying them for $534m. They are now worth over $2billion and furthermore, Ranadive plays an active role on NBA committees helping to shape the future direction of the league.
And he seems to be working quietly, as well. Sportico credited his interest with people ‘familiar with the matter’ who ‘aren’t authorised to speak publicly’. A spokesperson for the Kings also refused to comment on the alleged interest.
It would seem that Ranadive would need to form a consortium with fellow backers though. While the Kings are worth billions, his personal wealth comes in at £700m.
Serious contender rating: 5/10
Vivek Ranadive owns NBA team Sacramento Kings and is reportedly putting the finishing touches to a bid to attempt to buy Chelsea
He’s talked the talk, but it feels like Muhsin Bayrak is talking almost a bit too much to walk the walk. The Turkish businessman has claimed he is in talks with Abramovich and suggested they were moving forward promptly.
‘We are negotiating the terms of the purchase of Chelsea with Roman Abramovich’s lawyers,’ the businessman told Turkish outlet Yeni Safak.
‘We are in the negotiation phase for the signatures. We will fly the Turkish flag in London soon. We made our offer. Because of the war with Russia and Ukraine in the world. Because they find Turkey safe, they want to get most of the after-sales money in Turkey. We are planning to sign soon.’
It’s not exactly the conduct of someone keeping the low profile that Abramovich and his advisors will deem credible. Yet Sportsmail revealed last week that a private jet owned by Abramovich made a trip to Turkey on Wednesday, potentially to discuss terms with Bayrak.
Serious contender rating: 2/10
Turkish billionaire Muhsin Bayrak has said that he has begun negotiations to buy Chelsea but the public manner of his interest seems to be at odds with what Abramovich is looking for
The American billionaire Josh Harris, who has stakes in the NBA, NHL and Premier League side Crystal Palace, is lining up a move according to The Financial Times.
Harris, 57, has an estimated worth of $7.5billion but his stake in Palace could confuse matters in making a bid for Chelsea as Premier League rules state he’d have to sell that stake before potentially taking over at Stamford Bridge.
Harris, alongside investor David Blitzer, invested £50m in Palace in 2015. A bid for Chelsea would likely be alongside Blitzer, with whom he has the company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.
Bloomberg News reported recently that Harris is also looking into expanding his sports portfolio with NFL franchise Denver Broncos. Estimates in the US believe that the Broncos could sell for as much as $4billion, an NFL record.
But with Chelsea, Harris and Blitzer would have to be swift in selling their stake in Palace and with time of the essence for Abramovich, it seems a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Serious contender rating: 4/10
Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris (left) is debating an offer for Chelsea, a report claims
ESPN claim that the 74-year-old American businessman – a long-time ally of former US President Donald Trump – is set to make an offer to Abramovich. He has already reportedly spoken to Raine Group.
Johnson is thought to have a good understanding of both Chelsea and the Premier League, having lived in London during his time as United States ambassador to the United Kingdom under Trump.
But a wider signal of caution for Chelsea fans comes in Johnson’s ownership of the New York Jets.
Johnson bought the Jets in 2000 and had to deal with the sudden resignation of head coach Bill Belichick, who left to join the New England Patriots, where he has won a record six Super Bowls as head coach, and drafted legendary quarterback Tom Brady within three months.
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson (centre) is reportedly preparing a bid to buy Chelsea
The Jets had won the AFC divisional play-offs in 1998 but would not reach that stage again until 2009, almost a decade into Johnson’s ownership. The last campaign in which the side won more games than they lost was 2015, with a wretched record since then of 5-11, 5-11, 4-12, 7-9, 2-14 and 4-13 – 59 wins and 101 losses since their last play-off appearance.
The worst of those years, from 2017 to 2021, came when Woody’s brother Christopher was in charge of the team during Woody’s four-year tenure as ambassador. Although the financial value of the Jets has risen dramatically, from around £500million when purchased to around £2.4billion now, that will be little consolation to fans, who have seen the team decline dramatically from a sporting standpoint.
In 2017, supporters urged him to sell up, with banners like ‘Dear Woody, Sell the team’ displayed around the stadium.
Serious contender rating: 4/10
The American businessman is a long-term ally of former US President Donald Trump (right)
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching names linked to succeeding Abramovich.
The Chicago Cubs chairman made his fortune in investment. He once owned a minor share in Derby County and four years ago fronted up a bid to buy AC Milan, so his eyes have been caught by opportunities to invest in football before.
He has been involved with the Cubs since 2009, when he purchased them for $900m. He has overseen a near $1bn renovation of the Cubs’ iconic Wrigley Field and has also redeveloped the surrounding areas of the stadium.
Sky News reported that a move from Ricketts could come in partnership with Ken Griffin, founder and chief executive of Citadel Asset Management and described by the publication as ‘one of the most successful – and wealthiest – executives in the American hedge fund industry.’
The Ricketts family is one of the top-100 richest families in America.
Serious contender rating: 7/10
Thomas Ricketts, the chairman of the Chicago Cubs, is perhaps one of the most eye-catching names to be linked to the purchase of Chelsea
RedBird Capital Partners
The Manhattan-based private equity company already have an 11 per cent stake in Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners. Similar to Josh Harris with Crystal Palace, that would have to be sold before the wheels can really turn on a move to purchase Chelsea.
ESPN reported that in recent months, RedBird have been exploring opportunities to purchase a team in Europe and Abramovich’s decision to sell Chelsea has put them on alert.
But again, like with Harris, time is of the essence and rushing through the sale of a stake in a rival Premier League outfit before completing a deal to take Chelsea off Abramovich’s hands seems to make it unlikely that they will emerge as the preferred bidder.
Serious contender rating: 5/10
PS: Conor McGregor…
He’s the man who loves to hog the headlines and as soon as Abramovich announced his decision to sell Chelsea, the Irish MMA star took to Twitter to outline his interest.
McGregor tweeted he’d offer $1.5bn to Abramovich and tweeted: ”I do not speak in jest. I am exploring this, as I said. Celtic from Dermot Desmond, Manchester United from the Glazers, and now the recently up for sale Chelsea football club.
‘All being explored. A football franchise purchase is in my future make no mistake about it. How wouldn’t I lead a team of young, dedicated athletes to glory. I’m perfect for the job. Pray it’s your team.’
It might not just be bold chat from McGregor. Sky News reported that he and his management company, Paradigm Sports, is working with McGregor Sports & Entertainment and Empowerment IP Capital, which is headed by sports financier Stephen Duval, on making a genuine offer for the club.
Sky also claim that when an offer is made it will be worth much more than the $1.5bn figure that McGregor first mooted. Watch this space…
Conor McGregor tweeted that he wants to buy Chelsea and there are tentative suggestions that his talk might not have been as outlandish as it may seem