Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family have confirmed they are leading a consortium that will bid to buy English Premier League club Chelsea, according to press reports on Wednesday.
New York merchant bank Raine Group has set a Friday deadline for bids, with Roman Abramovich’s trophy-filled 19-year tenure as owner of the Stamford Bridge club coming to a close.
“The Ricketts family, owners of (Major League Baseball team) the Chicago Cubs, can confirm they will be leading an investment group that will make a formal bid for Chelsea Football Club this Friday,” according to widely reported statement.
“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.”
The Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009 and celebrated a World Series in 2016, ending a 108-year wait.
Russian billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The British government imposed sanctions on Abramovich last week, describing him as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Chelsea’s assets have been frozen but they are allowed to operate under a special licence, with the government taking oversight of the potential sale.
Abramovich cannot profit from the sale of Chelsea but had pledged to write off the club’s £1.5 billion ($2 billion) debt and divert all proceeds to a charitable foundation, before the sanctions came into effect.
A number of other parties are understood to be interested in buying the European champions, including a consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly, a part owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss.