The Ricketts family continues to strengthen their bid to purchase Chelsea Football Club, adding Rock Entertainment Group to a consortium that already included hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin. Sky News reported over the weekend that REG, led by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, “had agreed to invest a significant – though undisclosed – sum” to aid a bid that is also being assisted by US-based investment bank Jefferies.
Those additions have made the Ricketts family the favorites to win the bidding, according to Darren Hughes of Gambling.com. Hughes believes they “have a deal all but confirmed” and that local bidder Nick Candy has been “blown out of the water by the Ricketts-led bid,” hence the heavy shift in the odds below.
It should be noted, however, that a lot can happen between now and when final bids are due on April 11. To wit, Philadelphia 76ers owner Steve Pagliuca — one of four bidders on the shortlist to purchase Chelsea — has reportedly approached former Disney boss Bob Iger about joining his team.
The addition of Gilbert’s group means the Chelsea pursuit now includes stakeholders in the following American teams: Cavs, Sixers, Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Cubs, and Dodgers. The potential bidders make up quite a rogue’s gallery of robber barons, so it’s at least mildly funny that the Ricketts family has been singled out to such an extent. Not that they don’t deserve it for their very public PR missteps how they’ve handled the Cubs in the 5+ years since winning the World Series, it’s just that they might not even be the least likable members of their own bidding group.
Some Chelsea backers organized an anti-Ricketts rally at Stamford Bridge over the weekend, though attendance was sparse and anger appears to be dying down. Some of that is due to the eight-point plan the prospective buyers presented to Chelsea fans in the wake of the blowback.
1. Make no change to the club’s name, badge and crest, or Chelsea blue, without the consent of supporters.
2. Never participate in a European Super League and always protect the integrity and heritage of Chelsea F.C.
3. Commit the resources necessary across all levels of the club to continue winning trophies, including investing in the first team, experienced football leadership and the academy.
4. Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality.
5. Create an Advisory Committee with diverse representation to ensure our decisions are informed by: a former men’s and women’s first team player, members of the CST and Chelsea Pitch Owners, and influential community leaders.
6. Explore every option to redevelop Stamford Bridge and do everything in our power to keep playing in this historic stadium.
7. Match the current commitment to Chelsea F.C. Women and increase the number of women’s matches played at Stamford Bridge.
8. Continue the vital charitable work of the Chelsea Foundation, seeking to use the power of football and sport to motivate, educate and inspire.
There’s also the idea that the Ricketts family will not have a controlling stake in Chelsea should their consortium’s bid be accepted. Though it was not revealed who would own the largest share and how much the Ricketts family would control, team spokesman Dennis Culloton told the Chicago Tribune that none of this will impact Cubs operations.
“The Chicago Cubs are a closed loop,” Culloton said. “All the revenue that is generated goes back into the team, in some fashion. So there’s no revenues from the Chicago Cubs being used for soccer or any other sports investment.”
Well, I guess that should make everyone from Clark and Addison to Stamford Bridge feel all warm and fuzzy about this whole thing.