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Chelsea: Government prepared to usher through sale to any of the four shortlisted bidders

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Government ready to wave through ANY of Chelsea’s four shortlisted bidders ahead of the final deadline for offers on Thursday, as a £3bn deal to end Roman Abramovich’s reign edges closer

  • Remaining contenders to buy Chelsea by submit their final offers on April 14 
  • Raine Group hope to present preferred bidder to Downing Street the next week 
  • The Government must approve the eventual buyer and issue licence for the sale
  • But it is understood that they are satisfied in principle with all parties in the race 

The Government is prepared to usher through Chelsea’s sale to any of the four shortlisted bidders, the PA news agency understands.

The remaining contenders to buy Chelsea must submit final offers for the Stamford Bridge club on April 14.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group will then hope to present a preferred bidder to Downing Street in the week of April 18.

The Government must approve the eventual buyer, with the issuing of a new Treasury licence for the sale the final hurdle for Chelsea’s would-be new owners.

And sources close to the Government have revealed Downing Street’s satisfaction in principle with all remaining parties in the battle to buy the Blues from Roman Abramovich.

Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, in partnership with US magnate Mark Walter and British businessman Jonathan Goldstein, have both pushed hard in their bids for the Blues.

There are four shortlisted bidders left in the race to replace Roman Abramovich at Chelsea

 There are four shortlisted bidders left in the race to replace Roman Abramovich at Chelsea

Todd Boehly, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has pushed hard in his Blues proposal

Todd Boehly, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has pushed hard in his Blues proposal

Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe have teamed up on another bid, while Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca is also in the running.

The Ricketts family’s bid has drawn criticism among Chelsea supporters, with an online petition launched against their candidacy.

A small protest was also staged at Stamford Bridge ahead of Brentford’s 4-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday, April 2.

Chelsea supporters have objected to controversies around the family including patriarch Joe Ricketts’ Islamophobic statements in leaked emails from 2019.

Family patriarch Joe Ricketts, 80, called Muslims'my enemy' in leaked emails from 2019

Family patriarch Joe Ricketts, 80, called Muslims ‘my enemy’ in leaked emails from 2019

A protest from supporters against the Ricketts bid was held at Stamford Bridge this month

A protest from supporters against the Ricketts bid was held at Stamford Bridge this month

Siblings Tom and Laura Ricketts are thought to be considered suitable bid leaders however, owing to their Cubs stewardship and efforts towards community relations and diversity and inclusion in Chicago.

The bid also boasts major financial backing from two of America’s richest men in Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert.

The Cubs owners’ public pledges to keep Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, reject any European Super League and to include supporters in decision-making processes are thought to have calmed any unease in Downing Street.

Broughton and Coe’s consortium’s bid for Chelsea would find favour in Government, given the duo’s clear establishment links and track record in sporting administration.

Boston Celtics chief Pagliuca’s track record in the NBA is not thought to generate any concerns in Downing Street either.

Boston Celtics chief Stephen Pagliuca's track record in the NBA has not generated concerns

Boston Celtics chief Stephen Pagliuca’s track record in the NBA has not generated concerns

Chelsea have continued to push for the Premier League top four despite off-field uncertainty

Chelsea have continued to push for the Premier League top four despite off-field uncertainty

Both the Broughton and Pagliuca consortium offers would likely require divesting of other football club shares, but Government chiefs are understood to expect Raine Group to have already accounted for such detail in whittling down their shortlist.

Josh Harris and David Blitzer would have to offload their shareholding in Crystal Palace if they are named in the Broughton bid as expected, while Pagliuca would need to reduce his 55 per cent share in Italian club Atalanta.

The Boehly-Goldstein bid appears to have precious few sticking points from a Government perspective.

The heads of the four consortiums met with Chelsea’s board executives last week, aiming to gather as much information as possible amid the fine-tuning of their bids.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine. 

Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to operate under strict terms

Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to operate under strict terms

The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Chelsea have been granted a special Government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.

The licence has been updated, according to documentation from the Government, which allows the club to meet more of their employment costs during the process.  

Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5billion debt.

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