With the Friday deadline for the sale of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea approaching, BBC Sport recaps who the major interested parties are so far.
The official deadline to purchase the west London Premier League club is 21:00 GMT Friday 18 March, although some final bids are likely to be submitted into the weekend as known parties are to ask for more time.
There are still more than 20 interested parties, but the number of confirmed bids is likely to be 10-15.
Chelsea – with the American investment firm Raine Group handling the sale – will make a shortlist next week, with the preferred bidder then requiring government approval, which will involve proving the source of funds and where the money goes next.
Any sale will also need to be signed off by the Premier League’s owners and directors test – known as the ‘fit and proper person’s test’..
The asking price for the reigning Champions League and Club World Cup champions is said to be around £3bn – although that has been described as “excessive” by some.
Russian billionaire Abramovich’s initial attempt to sell Chelsea was halted after he was sanctioned by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Abramovich understood to have strong ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Who are the potential bidders for Chelsea?
- A consortium led by ex-Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton, and joined by London 2012 chief Lord Coe
- The Ricketts family, who own Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs, are leading a bid from a group of investors
- Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and US businessman Todd Boehly have formed part of a consortium to try to take over Chelsea. Now joined by American PR executive Barbara Charone, British businessman Jonathan Goldstein and British journalist Daniel Finkelstein
- London-based investment firm Aethel Partners, headed by Portuguese entrepreneur Ricardo Silva
- British multi-millionaire businessman Nick Candy, supported by former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli, who co-owns Tifosy, a mergers and acquisitions company for the football sector
- Turkish billionaire Muhsin Bayrak says he is one of those to have launched a bid
- Other parties reported to be interested include US billionaire and Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris who has a stake in Crystal Palace, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and a Saudi Arabia-based consortium.
What is the club worth?
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140m but in his statement announcing his intention to sell he said his ownership had “never been about business nor money, but about pure passion for the game and club”.
He values the club at £3bn and has loaned the club £1.5bn – but said he will not ask for any loans to be repaid. Abramovich has also said proceeds of the sale would be donated to war victims.
The funds from the sale could go to a charitable organisation or into a frozen account.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire has said the £3bn price tag “does seem excessive” given the size of Stamford Bridge.
“Most commentators take the view that it’s not big enough to generate the money that somebody would want going forward,” Maguire said. “There is no capacity to increase Stamford Bridge given where it’s located in London so therefore moving elsewhere in London would be very expensive indeed.”
Chelsea has lost more than £900,000 a week since Roman Abramovich acquired the club, with a wage bill of £28m a month.
Most of the organisations that have come forward are linked to American investors, who have franchise investments in the NFL, NBA and so on.
What they will be looking to do there is change the model so there is better cost control at Chelsea, or trying to generate additional money.
We’re now reaching close to a critical mass of American investment in the Premier League, so they could be looking to change the culture in the Premier League, perhaps with the aim of cutting back levels of expenditure to make it more profitable from a day-to-day basis.
Taking a look at Aethel’s own accounts it is unusual how a company with relatively few assets could make a bid as large as we’re talking about, in the £2-3bn arena.
How quickly could the sale go through?
Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003, with the club winning 21 trophies during his tenure. He had his British assets, which include Chelsea, frozen by the UK government and was disqualified as a director of the club by the Premier League.
The Blues are allowed to continue operating after a special licence was issued by the UK government,
This also ensures Chelsea’s 800 staff – plus hundreds more on matchdays – are paid and allows existing season ticket holders to attend matches, but a new licence will need to be issued for the club to be sold.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month: “The quickest one [sale of a club] we’ve done is 10 days, but that’s not to say it can’t be beaten.
“Normally it’s a matter of weeks but it depends on the complexities and the number of potential owners.”