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Ricketts Family withdraws bid to purchase Chelsea FC

In the face of strong fan opposition, the Ricketts family decided to put in a final bid for the London soccer club

SPORTS-BBN-CUBS-RICKETTS-TB John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Although they made the final cut of candidates to purchase Chelsea FC, the Ricketts family and co-investors Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert have withdrawn from the bidding to purchase the English football club. The bid from the Cubs owners faced widespread opposition among Chelsea fans, primarily because of Islamophobic comments made by family patriarch Joe Ricketts.

The Ricketts ownership group said this in the announcement that they would not advance to the final stage of bidding.

The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert Group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea FC. In the process of finalizing their proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process. We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans, and we wish the new owners well.

The group did not mention what they meant by “certain issues,” but it certainly referred to the fan backlash over Islamophobic comments made by Joe Ricketts in leaked emails three years ago. Although the Ricketts team made it clear that Joe was not part of the bid (only Tom, Laura and Todd were part of the group), those comments were too much for many Chelsea supporters. Although the Ricketts were praised by many for meeting with fan groups, explaining that their views are not the same as their father’s and getting testimonials from Chicago Islamic groups, there were still widespread opposition to their bid. In the light of that, the group did not feel it was possible to go ahead with their bid.

This is not the first time that the Ricketts family failed to buy a major European football club. A 2018 bid to purchase AC Milan fell apart when the creditors who had gained control of the club decided not to sell.