The consortium fronted by billionaires Hansjörg Wyss from Switzerland and American Todd Boehly has submitted an official bid to buy Chelsea but will face strong competition to acquire the English soccer club with multiple parties expressing interests this week.
The offer from Wyss and Boehly’s consortium is understood to be the first one presented to the Raine Group, the US financial advisory firm managing the sale of the Premier League club.
Boehly, already a prominent sports owner in the US with stakes in Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers and NBA basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers, is reported to have previously failed with a £2.2 billion ($2.9 billion) bid to buy Chelsea in 2019.
Russian billionaire Abramovich, who announced his intention to sell the club last week as he faces possible sanctions from the UK government amid his country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, is reportedly seeking up to £3 billion ($4 billion).
Interest in the West London-based club appears to be growing with British property tycoon Nick Candy working on a £2.5 billion ($3.4 billion) bid.
Candy, a lifelong Chelsea supporter, publicly confirmed his interest and is seeking to put together a consortium of his own to rival Wyss and Boehly’s group.
It is believed that Candy, who is keen to redevelop Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium, will be unable to put together a bid of his own and will be dependent on other investors he can bring on board.
A spokesperson for Candy told Sky: "Mr. Candy is actively exploring a number of options for a potential bid for Chelsea. Any bid would be made in conjunction with another party and we have serious interest from several international partners.
"Mr. Candy has a huge affinity with Chelsea. The club deserves a world-class stadium and infrastructure and Mr. Candy's unique expertise and background in real estate would be a hugely valuable asset to delivering this vision."
In addition, US billionaire and sports owner Josh Harris is also considering a bid for the Premier League team.
Harris, however, already owns a minority stake in Crystal Palace and would have to sell that share in order to purchase Chelsea as Premier League rules would prevent him from owning another team.
The American also has ownership stakes in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL ice hockey’s New Jersey Devils.
Overall, around 10 parties are reportedly weighing up bids to buy Chelsea, with the majority of interest coming from the US.
RedBird Capital Partners, the US private investment firm, is one of a number of US-based groups considering a bid for the Champions League holders.
But like Harris, the firm’s interest in Liverpool – through its minority stake in the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group – would complicate matters.
Woody Johnson, the owner of the NFL’s New York Jets, and Thomas Ricketts, chairman of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, have also been linked with offers.
Elsewhere, Muhsin Bayrak, a Turkish businessman, last week expressed his interest in buying Chelsea and yesterday (March 8) said he would hold further talks with Abramovich’s representatives on Thursday (March 10) with a view to making an offer.
Bayrak told Turkish news outlet Oda TV that there is a “90% chance” of completing a deal with Abramovich.
One person who has ruled himself out of buying the club is Changpeng Zhao, the chief executive of crypto exchange Binance.
Binance confirmed to Reuters that Zhao held talks with the Raine Group but declined to pursue it as owning a soccer club is “not one of his priorities”.
Raine Group, which will reportedly earn a 1.5% commission from any sale fee, has given all interested parties a deadline of March 15 to submit opening bids.
Interested parties are looking to move swiftly in case Abramovich is sanctioned by the UK government, at which point it is unlikely a sale would be permitted.
The 55-year-old’s future as Chelsea owner was increasingly in doubt after his attempt to hand over control to the club’s trustees amid growing calls in parliament to sanction him.
Abramovich, who purchased Chelsea in 2003 for £140 million, is alleged to have strong ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, which he has previously denied, and has been the subject of increased UK speculation in recent weeks.