Chelsea FC are the Premier League champions, with a record number of points and goals scored this season. The club’s success is attributed to its special relationship with one man: owner Roman Abramovich. But how can ownership be so well-organized at Chelsea?
Chelsea are going through a very difficult time, with the club being sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The ownership transfer has caused many problems for the club and its fans, who have been protesting against it.
4:00 p.m. ET
ESPN FC’s Austin Lindberg
The deadline has past, and offers have been received. Following an eventful month in Chelsea’s history, the club’s new owner, who will follow Roman Abramovich, has accepted an offer waiting in the Raine Group’s midtown Manhattan offices. (The Raine Group, Abramovich’s New York merchant bank, might be keeping such offers at the financial advice firm’s London headquarters in Mayfair instead.)
More than 300 people expressed interest in buying Chelsea, according to Raine. Sources say that by the time Friday’s deadline for bids passed, anywhere between 20 and 30 parties had formalized their interest by submitting a proposal, with some of the more plausible approaches coming from U.S. sports owners or consortiums.
Given the circumstances of the sale, everyone involved has a vested interest in seeing it through as quickly as possible: Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government, and while Chelsea has a license to continue paying wages and fulfilling fixtures until the club is sold, their day-to-day operations have been severely hampered.
Raine Group is set to choose two or three preferred offers to go to the next round, according to sources. Those who have been selected will next be evaluated by top Chelsea authorities (excluding Abramovich) in order to choose a winner, with the government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport maintaining ultimate approval on the club’s new owner.
Nothing is certain in a deal of this magnitude — even if Abramovich’s £3 billion asking price is unlikely to be met — but four consortiums are generating the most interest, led by Todd Boehly, the Ricketts family, Woody Johnson (who is acting alone and has not publicly confirmed his bid), and Sir Martin Broughton.
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Aside from being very affluent, each of these ownership groups has one thing in common: ownership experience with American clubs. So, in order to give Chelsea supporters a sense of what to anticipate, we talked to our sources throughout America to find out how each of these investors runs their clubs, from Hollywood to New York.
Broughton | Boehly | Ricketts | Ricketts | Ricketts | Ricketts | Ricketts | Ricketts | Rick
Boehly is a part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Sparks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Boehly is a part-owner of the Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Among those who have invested are Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and London-based property developer Jonathan Goldstein.
His effect on the clubs in which he has invested is more difficult to assess than that of the other bids on this list. Boehly’s ownership in the Lakers and Sparks (27 percent, finalized in the summer of 2021) and Dodgers (20 percent) are all minority stakes, which means he has minimal say in how the teams are managed, but he is claimed to have some influence in branding and marketing. However, each franchise has had a lot of success at a lot of money, and Boehly has helped to pay for it.
The Dodgers had the largest payroll in baseball in 2021, with a total of $285.6 million in player salaries and $32.7 million in competitive balance taxes. They’re likely to keep their top rank in the payroll standings in 2022, with expenditure anticipated to reach $300 million this year. With the Lakers, it’s a similar tale. They are the NBA’s fifth-largest payroll in 2021-22, spending $156 million on player salaries and additional $45 million in luxury tax, up from fourth in 2020-21.
With over a decade in the owners suite at Dodger Stadium, Boehly’s view on club ownership is best understood via baseball. The Dodgers have made the playoffs every season since 2013, the first full season after Guggenheim Baseball Management (of which Boehly is a partner) completed its takeover of the club; they have won the National League West Division eight consecutive years between 2013 and 2020; they have won the National League pennant in 2017, 2018, and 2020; and they have won the franchise’s first World Series in 32 years in 2020.
However, Guggenheim and Boehly’s decade of extravagant spending and unmatched achievement was not done out of the goodness of their hearts. This group is focused on winning because they understand that a successful franchise is more valuable. The Dodgers’ owners are ready to risk their substantial riches by losing money in the near term if it means they will make money in the long run.
This kind of success has a price tag that goes beyond what owners are prepared to pay players, managers, and staff. The TV arrangement that Boehly helped secure provided the Dodgers money, but it also prevented many Angelenos from watching the games. The audience at Dodger Stadium used to be viewed as the most representative of Los Angeles, but escalating ticket prices have pushed many people out of attending games in person.
Ricketts is the owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
The Ricketts family controls the Chicago Cubs (MLB), and their plan to buy Stamford Bridge includes a cooperation with Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin, the founder and CEO of financial services firm Citadel.
The Ricketts have proven a willingness to spend on players as Cubs owners, but they are not open-checkbook owners. That much is shown by the fact that they let three key members of their 2016 World Series championship team (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo) to go through free agency with minimal effort made to re-sign them. They are business owners who must be persuaded of a strategy by demonstrating the potential for both short- and long-term advantages.
Johnson is the owner of the New York Jets football team.
Johnson, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2017 to 2021 under President Donald Trump and is an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, has a reputation for being cheap, but that’s not entirely fair. Year after year, the Jets are among the NFL’s leaders in money spent, topping the league in free-agent spending in 2019.
The issue is that he does not manage his money well. He wastes money on pricey players, many of whom are towards the end of their careers; he enjoys chasing the big names.
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Johnson, despite his willingness to spend, is generally despised by Jets fans. The club hasn’t reached the playoffs in 11 years, which is the longest current run in the league, and much of it may be attributed to his mismanagement.
When he originally became the owner, he had some success, reaching the playoffs in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2010. He did, however, seem to have stepped into a pre-made scenario. Bill Parcells remained in the front office in 2000 to assist the squad, and he surrounded them with excellent players and coaches. Johnson rode that wave for a decade, and the Jets were considered a decent team, but things started to go apart after the 2010 season.
Part-owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, and Sacramento Kings are Broughton, Blitzer, Harris, and Ranadive.
Connor O’Halloran contributed reporting.
Broughton is the only bidder from the United Kingdom on our list, and he’s been a constant presence in Chelsea’s quest for a new owner. The consortium proposal, according to the 74-year-old Chelsea supporter, is one of stability. He’s teamed with former British Olympic Association head Sebastian Coe, part owners of the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and New Jersey Devils (NHL) Josh Harris and David Blitzer, and Sacramento Kings (NBA) owner Vivek Ranadive, as well as former British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe.
Throughout their tenures, the three of American franchise owners have been ambitious, willing to spend money to produce a successful product. Last summer, the Devils gave Dougie Hamilton the most costly contract in organization history, while the Sixers have already signed Joel Embiid to a $196 million super-max deal and are poised to sign James Harden to a $230 million extension this summer.
Despite such large sums of money, neither franchise has managed to achieve its goals. Under Harris and Blitzer’s ownership, the Devils have only reached the playoffs once, while the 76ers have never advanced beyond the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Ranadive’s ownership of the Kings has been more conservative than that of his NBA peers. Sacramento hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, seven years before Ranadive took over as majority owner, and has the league’s 12th-lowest salary cap in 2021-22.
One potential stumbling block in their offer might be Harris and Blitzer’s ownership of Crystal Palace, however it seems they are prepared to relinquish fast in order to seek Chelsea control.
Other noteworthy bids
Nick Candy, the London-based investment group Centricus, and equity firm Aethel Partners have all made substantial proposals in addition to the aforementioned five.
Candy, a British businessman and Chelsea season-ticket holder, has gathered a group of investors, including several South Korean financial institutions, under the banner of Blue Football Consortium, and has worked to bring in a tech platform, PrimaryBid, that would offer a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give football back to the fans” via shares in the club.
Centricus has collaborated with other asset management businesses to put together a competitive proposal, led by Nisar Al-Bassam and CEO Garth Ritchie (both Chelsea ticket holders). They want to “maintain an elite global brand,” “invest in grassroots,” and “strategic real estate investment” as part of their vision, with the goal of “maintaining and supporting existing management on both the business and sporting operations of the CFC Group,” as well as “maintaining the existing strategy direction” of the club.
Aethel Partners is doing it alone, with no outside investors or celebrity participation, and has made an emergency $65 million investment to keep the club from collapse while Chelsea and Abramovich’s penalties remain in place.
Chelsea is the premier league club in London, England. The club was founded in 1905 and plays its home games at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea has won numerous trophies including four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups and the UEFA Europa League. Reference: chelsea premier league.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 3 on the front of Chelsea jerseys?
A: The three on the front of Chelsea jerseys is a symbol for the English Premier League, which Chelsea currently plays in.
Who is the new owner of Chelsea?
A: The new owner of Chelsea is Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch.
Who are Chelsea owners?
A: Chelsea Football Club is a professional football club in London, England.
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