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The consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly has entered exclusive talks to purchase Chelsea FC, multiple news outlets report on Friday, becoming the preferred bid as its owner Russian billionaire Roman Ambramovich is tied up by U.K. sanctions—but yet another billionaire surprised fans with a last-minute bid.
Boehly’s group, which includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British property investor Jonathan Goldstein, is negotiating with the Raine Group, the advisor on the sale, to purchase the team for about $3 billion, according to multiple reports.
The deal is still subject to final approval from the British government, and the two sides may not come to an agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
A group led by Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said in a statement that they were informed they were not the preferred bidder, and the Journal reports the remaining groups had also been informed of their unsuccessful bids.
But in a surprise move, Sir James Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, announced he had made a last-minute “formal bid” for the team Friday morning for more than $5 billion, even though the deadline to submit offers ended weeks ago.
What We Don’t Know
The Raine Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes if they will consider Ratcliffe’s bid after the deadline for offers ended on April 11.
Abramovich, worth about $8.7 billion by Forbes’ estimates, purchased Chelsea for about $190 million in 2003. The billionaire announced he would be selling Chelsea in early March amid pressure from British politicians over his reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Days later, he was sanctioned by the U.K. and the EU, upending his plans to sell the team and donate the net proceeds to help victims of the war in Ukraine. While Abramovich has downplayed his ties to the Kremlin, he has been an informal mediator in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
What To Watch For
The Raine Group said it will present one offer for the team to the British government and the Premier League by the end of April. The Journal reports the sale is expected to be valued at more than $3 billion, which would make it a record sale for a professional sports team.
$4.5 billion. That’s Boehly’s net worth, according to Forbes’ real-time wealth tracker.