Chelsea’s takeover saga has taken another turn when one of the leading candidates to take control of the club from Roman Abramovich became involved in a racism battle.
The Ricketts familywho owns the Major League Baseball franchise team Chicago Cubs, had hoped to enter the competition to buy the European champions after submitting their plans to the Raine Group – the US commercial bank that oversees the process – before last Friday’s deadline.
The family flew to London on Tuesday to speak with supporters and Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, with Raine set to break down the interested parties to a final three. I understand that this could be done as soon as Wednesday or at the end of the week latest.
However, their plans have been met with resistance after historic Islamophobic emails from Joe Ricketts, the 80-year-old family head, surfaced this week.
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST), which has been loud in the weeks since Abramovich was sanctioned of the British government for alleged links to Vladimir Putin’s regime, has reiterated that they will “do what we can to protect the club from falling into the wrong hands”, and insists on possible potential new owners must support inclusiveness and diversity.
“Perhaps of greater importance than our call for greater fan representation and protection of the club’s legacy, all new owners should share the inclusive views of Chelsea FC and our diverse support base,” the Trust said in an open letter on Wednesday. “We will challenge any potential owner where there are concerns about their commitment to these values.”
Ricketts said in an email in 2012: “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society. As you know, Islam can not do that. Therefore, we can never let Islam become a big part of our society. “Muslims are, of course, my (our) enemy because of their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims.”
His son Tom runs the Chelsea bid and has insisted his father is not involved in the deal.
Fans have used the hashtag #NoToRicketts on Twitter to make their feelings heard. Paul Canoville, Chelsea’s first black player who was racistly abused during his playing career and who has become an anti-racism activist since retiring, has also condemned the Ricketts family.
“So I’ve seen and heard enough. I support @ChelseaSTrust and say a big fat anti-racism NO to Ricketts’ bid! ” he tweeted. He also urged Sky Sports News to “stop mentioning” the family in their reporting on the takeover process.
Chelsea have a number of Muslim players in their first team squad, including N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Hakim Ziyech.
The Ricketts family’s donations to the Republican Party during Donald Trump’s presidency will also be seen as yet another mark against supporters’ desire for diversity.
In 2019, Trump publicly supported Joe Ricketts’ book “The Harder You Work the Luckier You Get: An Entrepreneur’s Memoir”. Open Secrets, an organization that describes itself as the United States “leading research group tracking money in US politics and their impact on elections and public policy“ formerly called Ricketts a “megadonor“ to the Republican Party.
Kenneth Griffin, the billionaire hedge fund tycoon involved in the Ricketts family’s bid, was the fourth largest donor to the Republican Party during the last election cycle, providing $ 46 million (34.8 million pounds), according to Open Secrets. Griffin has since ruled out supporting Trump for another White House fight.
Meanwhile, Brian Wolff, the manager of the Chelsea Chicago Supporters Club, which also supports the Cubs, criticized the family’s operation of the franchise. “I can report the vast majority of opinions [towards the family from Cubs fans] has been of universal contempt, “he said.
“The Ricketts’ political donations, fundraising and support for candidates who do not share the inclusive views of Chelsea Football Clubs and its supporters are completely inconsistent with 19 years of fantastic work done by the club and the Chelsea Foundation, especially as a leader in committing to a viable salary. and efforts to protect and promote equality for BAME and the LGBTQ + community.
“Their ownership of the Chicago Cubs baseball and remodeling of Wrigley Field raises serious doubts as to whether they will build on the club’s success on the pitch, and also the Chelsea Pitch Owners’ continued existence and goal of keeping Chelsea Football Club playing at Stamford Bridge at ours. eternal home.
“On behalf of countless supporters around the world, I urge you to reject their bid for ownership of Chelsea Football Club in favor of others who will commit not only to building on the last two decades’ investment in players and infrastructure, but equally so important, the investment in followers and the values we hold dear. ”
The Ricketts family has sought to equalize tensions by insisting they would “promote values” of inclusivity, while also claiming to have developed partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago during their affiliation with the Cubs.
A family statement read: “Racism and Islamophobia have no place in our society. We have developed deep and lasting partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all color communities. Respect for diversity and inclusion is central to our family’s values. If we win in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values. “
Challenging to buy Chelsea
LA Dodger’s co-owner and American magnate has teamed up with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British businessman Jonathan Goldstein, CEO of Cain International and chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council. Boehly previously made a bid for Chelsea in 2019.
The Ricketts family
Ricketts made a formal offer to buy Chelsea in 2018 so they can also benefit from prior due diligence. They have first-hand experience leading a major sports franchise and renovating the famous Wrigley Field Stadium.
Sir Martin Broughton
The former Liverpool chairman put the Reds on the path to their current prosperity in a short-term role in 2010, heralding the Fenway Sports Group era. The former chairman of the board of British Airways has picked up Lord Coe and added sports business and political influence. Coe’s experience as World Athletics President, managing the London Olympics in 2012 and as a Conservative peer will all strengthen Broughton’s offerings.
The British real estate magnate and Chelsea fan has drawn up his own bid and raised his offer “significantly” on Monday after picking up new investments from several South Korean firms. The 49-year-old wanted to give fans the “golden share” ownership so coveted by football fans – giving them the veto power over important decisions such as changing the club’s name – and has promised a total rebuild of Stamford Bridge.
Four Chelsea fans and top businessmen are part of the bid from Centricus, an investment company that manages DKK 29 billion. pounds of assets. Co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam and CEO Garth Ritchie, as well as Cheyne Capital’s Jonathan Lourie and Talis Capital’s Bob Finch, are the four Blues supporters facing the bid.
Saudi Media Group
The Saudi-based consortium has composed a strong bid, led by businessman Mohamed Alkhereiji, but has preferred to keep most details out of the public eye during the process.
The New York Jets owner is also believed to have made an official bid for the Raine Group.