Goldman Sachs are advising a consortium led by LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly as four bids are confirmed to have been submitted for the purchase of Chelsea.
LA Dodgers part-owner Boehly, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein have backing in their bid from California-based investment firm Clearlake Capital, who have roughly $60 billion (£45.6 billion) of assets under management, and want to complete a takeover before Chelsea’s next Premier League game against Brentford on April 2.
Times columnist and former Conservative government adviser Daniel Finkelstein and American PR legend Barbara Charone are also part of the consortium.
Sky Sports News has been told by sources close to the Boehly consortium they are hopeful they have the complete plan – and the speed – to win government approval and that of bankers Raine, who have already stressed the importance of a quick sale.
The group is also being advised by Goldman Sachs, the powerful Wall Street investment bank, according to Sky News’ City Editor Mark Kleinman.
The addition of Goldman to Mr Boehly’s bid is understood to have been disclosed in an offer letter sent to Raine on Friday.
While Goldman’s involvement is limited at this stage to an advisory rather than financing role, his decision to work with Mr Boehly underlines his apparent status as one of the frontrunners to succeed Roman Abramovich as the Blues’ owner.
Spokesmen for Goldman and Mr. Boehly both declined to comment on Saturday.
Former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton is joined by the president of World Athletics Lord Sebastian Coe – both men are Chelsea season ticket holders – and have pledged to invest in players and facilities if successful.
They also said “all cash proceeds from the sale are delivered without delay to the victims of the ongoing humanitarian crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and promised that fans would be “at the heart of decision making”.
Twelve years ago Sir Broughton brokered the sale of Liverpool in similar circumstances – as state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland were the club’s major shareholder, it meant he had to work with the UK government to approve the sale to Fenway Sports Group. He told Sky News: “I’ve been a Chelsea fan since 1955. I’ve been down there for 67 years. I am a fan. I think it’s important that we have a great deal of fan involvement in this.
“We can bring stability. That’s an important part of having a consortium. When you have a single party you run geopolitical risks and financial risks, even health risks, where an incident can create confusion and chaos at the club.
“Where you have a consortium, if something like that happens, it affects the consortium – it doesn’t affect the club. A consortium brings long-term stability of like-minded, highly-capitalized people who are in it for the long haul , with no exit timeline at all.”
British luxury property developer Nick Candy – who has also pledged to have fan representation on the club’s board – confirmed he is leading a global consortium that has submitted a bid of £2 billion.
The group say they are committed to delivering financial support for all men’s, women’s and academy teams and want to build a new stadium at Stamford Bridge to create a major new London landmark.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, are joined in their bid by billionaire hedge fund owner Ken Griffin, who is the richest individual involved in the process and worth nearly three times as much as Roman Abramovich.
There have been other confirmations of bids for Chelsea, with Aethel Partners putting in a bid worth more than £2 billion for Chelsea on Thursday. An investment company based in Berkeley Square in London, it is willing to provide Chelsea with an immediate £50m to deal with any short-term financing the club may need.
Meanwhile, former Chelsea captain John Terry has announced he is joining the True Blues Consortium aimed at giving supporters a 10 per cent ownership in the club.
Chelsea fans would be able to buy into the set-up from as little as £100, with the consortium aiming to work with the club’s eventual new owners on buying a share in the club.
Chelsea Pitch Owners, who own the Stamford Bridge freehold, and the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust have backed the plan in principle. If successful, the True Blues Consortium would elect one representative to sit on Chelsea’s board.
However, Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak says he did not bid for Chelsea despite claiming earlier this month there was a “90 per cent chance” he would buy the club.
Bayrak said he was very upset at missing Friday’s 9pm deadline and blamed a misunderstanding with his lawyers.
Bayrak’s claims about his interest in buying Chelsea had always been viewed with skepticism by those close to the sale process.
Chelsea Supporters Trust confirmed they have held talks with several of the bidders and have called for fan involvement “through the creation of a legally-binding golden share”. They also urged the government to show its support for football fans by “implementing the recommendations of the fan-led review for the benefit of all supporters”.
Restrictions show during Chelsea’s trip to Middlesbrough
The sale of Chelsea has come amid UK and EU sanctions on Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the Premier League club also under a number of restrictions.
The club – including women and youth teams – cannot sell tickets to games or sell merchandise and are restricted on how much they can spend on any given game day.
Thomas Tuchel’s side beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday and only had 670 fans at the Riverside Stadium – the number of fans who had purchased tickets before Abramovich was sanctioned last Thursday and the new restrictions came in to force.
The government had lifted the £20,000 away travel cap for the game, however, to allow Chelsea to fly to the game as they normally would.
The club and the government remain in talks about amending some of the restrictions Chelsea are operating under, with the government considering allowing a third party to handle the sale and distribution of tickets.
Middlesbrough will be donating their share of gate receipts – expected to be about £300,000 – from the game to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.