The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust says its membership “neither supports nor has confidence in” the Ricketts family’s bid to buy the Blues.
The influential CST conducted a snap survey of members, with 77% of those polled claiming not to support the Ricketts’ bid to buy Chelsea. Tom Ricketts, the Chicago Cubs co-chairman, responded directly to the unrest, declaring an “absolute commitment” to diversity and inclusion in the bid.
The Ricketts are among the final four bidders aiming to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich. Tom and his sister Laura Ricketts front the family’s candidacy to take over at the west London club. Chelsea fans also organised a protest against the Ricketts’ candidacy before Saturday’s Premier League match against Brentford at Stamford Bridge. Joe Ricketts, the family patriarch, who has no role at the Cubs or in the bid to buy Chelsea, described Muslims as “my enemy” in leaked emails from 2019.
Chelsea fans have voiced concerns consistently on social media, and now the CST has added further weight to those worries. “At present, it is clear that our membership neither supports nor has confidence in the Ricketts family’s bid for the club,” read a CST statement. “This is reflective of wider concerns articulated by large, vocal sections of Chelsea’s supporter base.
“The CST Board is guided by our membership, and thus we do not currently believe it is in the best interests of our members for the Ricketts family’s bid to succeed. We await further public detail from the Ricketts family on concrete steps they will take to address the well-documented concerns of Chelsea supporters. Should the Ricketts publicly set out clear and detailed plans on how they will address support concerns, we may survey our members again in the next week.”
Tom Ricketts has attempted to build bridges with the Muslim community in Chicago ever since his father’s 2019 comments, and continues to apologise for his father’s comments.
The Ricketts have been adding advisory partners in fine-tuning their bid before the 11 April deadline for improved offers, but their bid is understood to be funded entirely by cash. Hedge fund supremo Ken Griffin has added his significant personal financial clout behind the Ricketts’ bid for Chelsea.
Blues supporters continue to raise fears over the Ricketts’ candidacy to buy the club, however, with those issues crystallised in the CST survey. “Last week, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust stated that the Ricketts family must urgently and publicly address supporter concerns – especially with regard to inclusivity, given both past and recent statements by members of the family,” read the CST statement. “We also committed to surveying our members as to their confidence and support in the Ricketts family’s bid for Chelsea FC.
“Our members have given a clear message: 72% of those who responded do not currently have confidence that the Ricketts family would run an inclusive and successful club, with 5% of respondents believing they would. Similarly, 77% of members who responded do not support the Ricketts family’s bid for Chelsea FC and three per cent of respondents are in support. It is essential that the new owners of Chelsea FC have the confidence of the supporter base and demonstrate an understanding of the values that we stand for.”
Tom Ricketts confirmed meetings with Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, and pledged to sit down with more fans in an attempt to prove his family’s suitability to take over at the club. “Over the past fortnight, our bid team has met with several supporter groups to explain our vision,” he said. “In those meetings, and by letter to all groups, we have shared a set of specific commitments we will make to fans, if our bid is successful.
“We believe these are far-reaching and certainly include an absolute commitment on the part of the Ricketts family and the bid team to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club. We look forward to more meetings – including with the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust – over the coming days and to making a public reiteration of our values and commitments.”