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Chicago Cubs owners fly to UK as shortlist for Chelsea bidders expected

David Ornstein reports the latest on Chelsea's sale, as the club's ownership looks set to change hands in the coming weeks.

The bids are in for Chelsea and now the frontrunners are starting to emerge, as consortiums battle to try and take control of the Premier League club.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

One of the reported frontrunners, the Ricketts Family who own the MLB’s Chicago Cubs, are said to be heading to the UK for the next stage of their bid.

The London Evening Standard say the Ricketts Family is flying to London to meet with several groups and to ‘reassure worried fans’ who have shown concern about their potential ownership after previous racist comments in an email exchange from the family’s patriarch, Joe Ricketts, which he has apologized publicly for.

“Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms,” they said in a statement. “Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society. We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of colour. Respect for diversity and inclusion are central to our family’s values. If we prevail in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values.”

It is expected that a shortlist of bidders will be finalized in the coming days, and things will continue to move very quickly as Chelsea aim to have new owners in place ASAP.

Bids (most of which are expected to be well over $2.5 billion) had to be in with The Raine Group by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, March 18.

Current Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been forced to sell the club as he was sanctioned by the UK government and had his assets in the UK frozen due his close links to the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

With Chelsea currently facing several restrictions and operating on a temporary license until May 31, 2022, a sale is needed ASAP. All of that needs to be agreed, plus the UK government says that Abramovich will not receive a single penny from the sale of the club.

Several U.S. based consortiums are said to be leading the way to buy Chelsea, while other groups from Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom are also said to be in the running.

Below is the latest.

Who has bid for Chelsea?

We know that several large consortiums have confirmed their bid for Chelsea:

  • Group led by Nick Candy (British property developer, Chelsea season ticket holder), with Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli as an advisor with South Korean companies C&P Sports Group and Hana Financial Group plus Silicon Valley firms part of consortium
  • Group led by Sir Martin Broughton (former British Airways CEO), Josh Harris and David Blitzer (co-owners of Crystal Palace, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils) and Lord Sebastian Coe
  • Group led by Todd Boehly (part-owner, LA Dodgers), Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss and London-based property developer Jonathan Goldstein have backing from California-based investment firm Clearlake Capital. American PR legend Barbara Charone also part of the bid.
  • Group led by Ricketts family (Chicago Cubs owners) and Ken Griffin (American billionaire)
  • Saudi Media group (led by Mohamed Alkhereiji)
  • Aethel Partners (London based consortium)

Who are the frontrunners?

It appears that the groups led by Todd Boehly and the Ricketts family are the frontrunners, but don’t rule out the connections that Nick Candy and Sir Martin Broughton have as Chelsea season ticket holders and within the UK government.

Putting the actual finances to one side, proving to the UK government (who will issue a new licence for Chelsea to be sold) that they can be trusted to run the club correctly is a huge part of this deal.

From the list of serious bidders, there appears to be a growing feeling that the next owners of Chelsea will either be from the UK or the USA.

Several of the groups are pushing for the sale ASAP and some believe they could be in charge by the next time Chelsea play at home against Brentford (April 2) in the Premier League.

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