The Chelsea sale is down is down to four groups, all led by Americans sports team owners.
Groups led by Todd Boehly (Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers), Tom Ricketts (Chicago Cubs), Steve Pagliuca (Boston Celtics) and Josh Harris/David Blitzer (Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils) have emerged as the four finalists, according to someone familiar with the process. The person was granted anonymity because the details are private.
Representatives for both the team and the Raine Group, which is running the sale, declined to comment.
More than 15 individuals and billionaires submitted offers for the team prior to last week’s deadline. The offers were tweaked and revised after the deadline, and the Raine Group started informing some of those groups this week that they were no longer in the running, according to multiple groups that were told they’d been eliminated.
Each of these American bidders will likely be part of a wider group with other investors. Boehly, for example, has been talking with Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss about a joint bid. Ricketts was reportedly bidding alongside hedge fund giant Ken Griffin. They could also add others to their groups moving forward, particularly people with a local presence in London.
It’s been less than a month since current Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich announced he would sell the team in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In that time the sale has become one of the most competitive—and unique—franchise sales in sports history. Sportico valued the team at $3.35 billion, which would be the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise.
Abramovich, who is worth $7.3 billion according to Forbes, has said that he plans to forgive the roughly $2 billion (£1.5 billion) that he’s personally lent the team over the course of his ownership. He also said he plans to donate the “net proceeds” to victims in Ukraine, though it’s unclear if that will happen.
Abramovich was recently sanctioned by the U.K. government, which froze a number of his assets. That’s made the sale even more complex. The team is currently allowed to continue business operations under a special license, but it’s unclear who has the most say when it comes to picking a buyer, or what will happen to the money once a deal is struck.
Harris and Blitzer are currently investors in English Premier League club Crystal Palace, and would likely need to sell those stakes if they purchase Chelsea. Blitzer also has a number of other soccer holdings; Pagliuca is an investor in Italian soccer team Atalanta.