The Ricketts family, which owns Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs, a consortium made up of Lord Coe and another group led by British property investor Nick Candy have all submitted offers to buy Chelsea.
A deadline for offers was set for 21:00 GMT on Friday after the Premier League club was put up for sale by Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea fan Candy said he had secured additional investment from South Korea and his offer was “over £2billion”.
Also among the confirmed bidders is a group made up of Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, American businessman and co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers Todd Boehly, American public relations executive Barbara Charone, British businessman Jonathan Goldstein and British journalist Daniel Finkelstein.
The consortium works with the American investment company Clearlake Capital, which has around $60 billion (£45.6 billion) of assets under management.
Abramovich’s attempt to sell the club was halted after he was sanctioned by the British government and his assets, including Chelsea, were frozen.
The move came in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Abramovich believed to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US investment firm Raine Group has been tasked with selling Chelsea and the UK government is expected to issue a new license, allowing the club to be sold, once a preferred buyer has been identified.
Although the official purchase deadline the west London Premier League club was at 9:00 p.m. GMT on Friday with some final offers expected to be submitted over the weekend.
There are still more than 20 interested parties, but the number of confirmed offers should be 10 to 15.
Chelsea and Raine Group will shortlist next week, with the preferred bidder then to be approved by the government, which will involve proving the source of funds and where the money is going.
Any sale will also need to be cleared by the Premier League’s owners and directors test – known as the ‘fit and proper person test’.
One of the bids was submitted by a consortium led by former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Coe.
“I remain the only person [in the bidding process] having made a change of ownership at a major football club in a similar situation, which I did at Liverpool 12 years ago,” said Broughton, who is also a former chairman of British Airways.
“As a lifelong fan, I am committed to ensuring that Chelsea retain their preeminent position at the top of European football and to ensuring that we put the fans first.”
The consortium said supporters would be “at the heart of the decision-making” if the bid was successful and it would “ensure the club was never beholden to any single individual or sovereign wealth fund”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Saturday, Broughton said the consortium “fully agreed” with the recommendations made by a fan-led review into the sport last year.
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch chaired the review, which said supporters must be consulted on all key decisions off the field through a “shadow board”.
“All of the ideas that Tracey Crouch put forward are on the table,” Broughton said.
“We don’t want to tell the fans what elements of the report we want to introduce, we want to sit down with them.
“We absolutely believe that the winning bid must be fan-friendly and reflect the ethos of the Tracey Crouch Report.”
A spokesperson for Candy’s Blue Football Consortium said: “I can confirm that the two South Korean companies Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group form an important part of Mr. Candy’s global consortium of investors.
“Their involvement is representative of Chelsea’s global brand and huge loyal fanbase in Asia.”
Candy added: “Football clubs are vitally important community and cultural assets, and this is a unique opportunity to give football back to the fans and put them at the heart of a club’s operations and strategy. world-class football.”
The Ricketts family’s bid is backed by billionaire hedge fund entrepreneur Ken Griffin.
Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak, who had previously expressed interest in the club, said on Friday night that his company AB Group Holding had not submitted a bid.
Bayrak attributed AB Group’s failure to meet the deadline to a misunderstanding with his lawyers over the auction process, telling Reuters news agency he was “very upset” by the situation.
Who are the potential candidates for Chelsea?
- A consortium led by the former chairman of Liverpool Mr Martin Broughton, and joined by the London 2012 leader Lord Coe.
- The Ricketts Familywhich owns the Major League Baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, is leading a bid from a group of investors.
- swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and American businessman Todd Boehly were part of a consortium to try to take over Chelsea. Now joined by an American public relations officer Barbara CharonBritish businessman Jonathan Goldstein and British journalist Daniel Finkelstein.
- London-based investment company Æthel Partnersled by Portuguese entrepreneur Ricardo Silva.
- Multi-millionaire British businessman Nick Candy, backed by ex-Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialliwhich is co-owner of Tifosy, an M&A firm for the football industry, and joined by Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group.
- Other interested parties include the American billionaire and the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers Josh Harris, which has a stake in Crystal Palace, Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and one Consortium based in Saudi Arabia.
What is the club worth?
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140million, but in his declaration announcing his intention to sell, he said his ownership had “never been about business or money, but pure passion for the game and the club”.
He values the club at £3billion and has loaned the club £1.5billion – but has said he won’t be asking for any loan repayments. Abramovich also said that proceeds from the sale would be donated to war victims.
The funds from the sale could go to charity or to a frozen account.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire said the £3billion price tag “seems excessive” given the size of Stamford Bridge.
“Most commentators don’t think it’s big enough to generate the money someone would want in the future,” Maguire said. “There is no capacity to expand Stamford Bridge given where it is located in London, so moving elsewhere in London would be very expensive indeed.”
Can some of the potential buyers afford Chelsea?
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire:
Chelsea have lost over £900,000 a week since Roman Abramovich acquired the club, with a monthly wage bill of £28m.
Most of the organizations that have come forward are tied to American investors, who have franchise investments in the NFL, NBA, etc.
What they will be looking to do there is change the model so that there is better cost control at Chelsea, or try to generate some extra money.
We are now reaching a critical mass of US investment in the Premier League, so they may seek to change the culture of the Premier League, perhaps with the aim of reducing spending levels to make it more profitable from day one. – day by day.
Looking at Aethel’s own accounts, it’s unusual that a company with relatively few assets could make such a large offer as the one we’re talking about, in the £2-3 billion arena.
How soon could the sale be concluded?
Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003, with the club winning 21 trophies during his tenure. He saw his UK assets, including Chelsea, frozen by the UK government and was disqualified as club manager by the Premier League.
The Blues are allowed to continue operating after a special license has been issued by the British government,
It also ensures that Chelsea’s 800 staff – plus hundreds more on matchdays – are paid and allow existing season ticket holders to attend matches, but a new license will need to be issued for the club to be sold.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month: “The fastest [sale of a club] we did is 10 days, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beat.
“Normally it’s a matter of weeks, but it depends on the complexities and the number of potential owners.”