Chelsea sale: Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s £4.25bn offer to buy club rejected ‘out of hand’


Sir Jim Ratcliffe has seen his £4.25billion offer to buy Chelsea ‘rejected out of hand’ – but Britain’s richest man remains interested in a takeover.

Chelsea’s takeover saga is still unresolved with the club hoping to restructure their sale after Roman Abramovich backtracked on his promise to write off their £1.6bn debts – leading to concerns the deal could be delayed and putting the club’s future at serious risk. 

Ratcliffe – the CEO of global chemicals company INEOS, had submitted the eleventh hour bid but reportedly bypassed US merchant bank Raine Group, the company in charge of overseeing Chelsea’s takeover.

LA Dodgers chief Todd Boehly now looks the clear favourite to be selected as the preferred bidder after Ratcliffe’s bid was turned down, while the consortium headed by Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Seb Coe is unlikely to be chosen either.

Ineos director Tom Crotty confirmed the INEOS bid had been dismissed but that Ratcliffe was not ready to give up on a takeover. 

He told Bloomberg: ‘We’ve been rejected out of hand by Raine but we will keep reminding people we are still here.’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has had his £4.25bn bid ‘rejected out of hand’ to purchase Chelsea 

Chelsea's hopes of finalising a new owner have hit a snag with Roman Abramovich intending to restructure the terms of the sale

Chelsea’s hopes of finalising a new owner have hit a snag with Roman Abramovich intending to restructure the terms of the sale

‘We will continue to engage with the fanbase,’ said Crotty. ‘We see ourselves as a fan-based bid.’ 

INEOS had pledged to maintain Chelsea’s traditions and respect the fanbase and community in a statement setting out their intentions, promising to invest heavily and revamp Stamford Bridge.

It said: ‘This is a British bid, for a British club. We believe that a club is bigger than its owners who are temporary custodians of a great tradition. With responsibility to the fans and the community. 

Ratcliffe (L) and his INEOS firm are still interested in buying Chelsea despite the rejection

Ratcliffe (L) and his INEOS firm are still interested in buying Chelsea despite the rejection

LA Dodgers chief Todd Boehly is the preferred bidder and the clear favourite to seal a takeover

LA Dodgers chief Todd Boehly is the preferred bidder and the clear favourite to seal a takeover

Chelsea's sale is up in the air with the Government concerned Roman Abramovich could benefit from the takeover despite sanctions against him

Chelsea’s sale is up in the air with the Government concerned Roman Abramovich could benefit from the takeover despite sanctions against him

‘That is why we are committing to spending £1.75bn over 10 years that will be for the direct benefit of the club. We will invest in Stamford Bridge to make it a world-class stadium, befitting of Chelsea FC. 

‘This will be organic and on-going so that we will not move away from the home of Chelsea and risk losing the support of loyal fans.

‘We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club.’

Chelsea are in danger of Premier League expulsion – and the clock is ticking – as their takeover risks becoming a Putin-Johnson row… Here’s why Abramovich’s £1.6bn loan has the club on a knife-edge

By Rob Draper 

If Roman Abramovich now wants his £1.6bn loan paid back to agree the sale of the Chelsea, then the club is facing its biggest crisis since the 1987 ‘Save the Bridge’ campaign, when Stamford Bridge was under threat of being turned into luxury flats by property developers Marler Estates.

Abramovich initially claimed he would write off the £1.6bn he had put into the club to ease the sale process. But now it is said he fears that may not be possible because of UK Government sanctions. Which is an interesting take, because the UK Government can amend the terms of the sanctions as and when it chooses, what with them writing the law on this.

So it’s clearly perfectly possible to allow Abramovich to write off the loan and designate a Government ESCROW account into which the money for the sale of the club can be paid. Could it be that a better explanation is that Abramovich doesn’t actually now want to write off the loan?

Chelsea will not be able to re-enter the Premier League if they are not licensed by June 8

Chelsea will not be able to re-enter the Premier League if they are not licensed by June 8

Put it this way: UK government sanctions make it clear that Abramovich is effectively President Putin’s man. If you believe that, then, in essence, Chelsea is a Russian state asset. Is Vladimir Putin, currently talking up the threat of nuclear war, really going to allow £2.5billion of Russian assets vanish into the hands of the UK Government to distribute as they see fit, with much of it ending up supporting Ukraine?

There was always a fear among those close to the sale process that Abramovich could scupper a deal at the last minute. And these new conditions, which only emerged last week, look very much like a huge spanner in the works. 

The deal suggested is that the loan, which is owed to a holding company called Fordstam (controlled by Abramovich), should now be paid to Camberley International Investments, which appears to be linked to Abramovich. That just isn’t going to happen if the UK Government is good to its word. They have pledged that not a single pound from the sale process can end up in Abramovich’s pocket.

And so we have a stand off and, just to add some tension, the clock is ticking. Chelsea are only operating as a club because the UK Government carved them out of sanctions until May 31 so that they could finish the season. Without Government permission, they cannot function: they can’t sell tickets, pay players or recruit players. They can’t even stage matches. They would essentially be liquidated and unable to play at any level, until some kind of deal can be sorted.

Abramovich fears the loan cannot be written off due to the UK Government's sanctions, but Boris Johnson and Co can change them as they see fit

If this becomes a blinking contest between Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Johnson the Blues could be in jeopardy

If this becomes a blinking contest between Boris Johnson (L) and Vladimir Putin (R) the Blues could be in jeopardy 

Maybe the Government will just extend the special licence? They could, but on June 8 the Premier League has its AGM and will constitute the league for 2022-23. If Chelsea aren’t licensed by then, they can’t take up their place in next season’s Premier League, nor can they be nominated by the FA as a Champions League or Europa League representative. And they can only be licensed with Government permission, which will only happen if they are sold.

Add into the mix the fact that the Financial Times is reporting that current chairman Bruce Buck and managing director Marina Granovskaia will continue at the club if Todd Boehly takes over. Julian Knight, Conservative MP and chairman of the DCMS Select Committee, which is the department overseeing the sale, says that would be an ‘unsettling development.’

And that the bizarre, last-minute Jim Ratcliffe bid, which has received lots of fanfare but which isn’t technically part of the process, seemed peculiarly designed to appease Abramovich. 

When Abramovich initially said he would sell Chelsea, before he was sanctioned, he said he wanted to set up foundation ‘for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.’ Victims of war was of course a suitably vague phrase which could conceivably mean rebuilding the Russian-controlled Donbas region in Ukraine.

Abramovich's late U-turn has thrown a spanner in the works for rumoured suitor Todd Boehly

Abramovich’s late U-turn has thrown a spanner in the works for rumoured suitor Todd Boehly

And claims Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia will stay on has been described as 'unsettling'

And claims Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia will stay on has been described as ‘unsettling’

The Ratcliffe bid mimicked Abramovich’s language, saying that it wanted proceeds to go to a ‘Charitable Trust to support victims of the war’. But as both Ratcliffe and Abramovich know, they don’t get to choose where the money goes so it’s meaningless to pledge what is going to happen to it. 

Unless Abramovich is plotting to pressure the Government to let him set up some kind of charitable organisation? That way he could spend the rest of his life demonstrating he is was in fact a generous humanitarian rather than a Putin crony, who gained his wealth in what his own lawyer described as an ‘easy-to-rig auction.’

In essence, it doesn’t really matter who buys the club. If they can’t get the deal done because Abramovich and the UK Government are in deadlock, then Chelsea are in jeopardy. 

Of course, with three and half weeks to go, the expectation is that someone will back down. But if this becomes, by proxy, a blinking contest between Putin and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, then it’s very hard to see either of them nuancing positions.



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