In an update to a story from before the lockout ended, a spokesman for the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, has confirmed that they they are part of a consortium that will be making a bid to purchase the English football (soccer) club Chelsea FC. Other than the Ricketts, the group has been confirmed to include Chicago hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin.
In their statement, the Ricketts family said:
The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, can confirm they will be leading an investment group that will make a formal bid for Chelsea Football Club this Friday.
As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts Family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.
We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course.
The deadline for bids for the club are due by this Friday, March 18.
The sale of Chelsea FC has been complicated by their current owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government for his close ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and cannot at this time personally profit from the sale of the club. The team is currently even banned from selling tickets to matches, so the UK government is trying to facilitate a sale of the club to new ownership as quickly as possible.
The speed with which the deal needs to be done may give the Ricketts family a leg up on the deal. Any owner would need to be approved quickly, and as the owner of a current professional franchise in a league that already does background checks would have an advantage over other bidders. Other potential bidders, such as a group coming out of Saudi Arabia, might have a much tougher time gaining approval for a sale.
In fact, the Ricketts’ specific ownership of the Cubs has been cited as a big plus as potential Chelsea owners. While Chelsea has been a very successful club, they play in a small and old urban stadium that is badly in need of a major renovation and expansion. Sound familiar? The Ricketts’ success in renovating and modernizing Wrigley Field make them an attractive bidder.
However, there are other bidders that also have desirable strengths and there will be a lot of political pressure to have someone British be a prominent member of any new ownership group. It’s unclear what the odds are that the Ricketts family will end up buying the club, but they are probably not the favorites at the moment. They have been mentioned among the 3 or 4 most serious bidders, however.
So once again, as Al likes to write, we await further developments.