London-based equity firm Aethel Partners have become the latest bidder for Chelsea, submitting an offer in excess of £2 billion ($2.63bn) on Thursday, sources have told ESPN.
It is understood the proposal includes an immediate £50 million ($65.8m) investment to guard against the club becoming insolvent as it continues to operate under a strict licence following the U.K government’s decision to sanction owner Roman Abramovich last Thursday over his alleged ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin.
Sources have told ESPN the bid is solely funded by Aethel Partners without any celebrity or independent billionaire backing.
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The New York-based merchant bank Raine Group, appointed to manage the sale, have set a deadline of 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m. ET) on Friday for the final submission of bids. Sources have told ESPN that two or three preferred offers will then be identified and put forward.
Sources have also indicated that there have been anywhere between 15 and 30 offers for the club which include the Ricketts’ family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, and a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers and LA Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly.
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is expected to formalise his interest while the Saudi Media Group claim to have made a £2.7bn ($3.55bn) bid and London-based property tycoon Nick Candy has publicly stated his intention to table an offer.
ESPN reported on March 9 that no bids at that stage had reached Abramovich’s £3bn ($3.95bn) valuation and it is expected that this will remain the case.
The U.K government will need to grant a licence to allow a sale of Chelsea to be completed but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have indicated they are likely to approve any such application once the preferred bidder has been identified.