A consortium led by the Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly has been chosen as the preferred bidder for Premier League club Chelsea, despite a dramatic late bid from the British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
The Athletic understands that Boehly’s group, which includes his fellow Dodgers co-owner Mark Walters and the Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, has not yet entered into an exclusivity agreement, however.
It is understood that the consortium’s total bid was in excess of £4 billion. This includes a pledge to spend £1.5 billion to develop the club and Stamford Bridge, on top of meeting Raine’s valuation of around £2.5 billion.
Raine, the US-based merchant bank managing the sale of the club, and Boehly declined to comment when contacted by The Athletic.
Chelsea did not respond to a request to comment on the story.
Boehly’s consortium had been in competition with two other groups to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich.
The ex-Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton and the Boston Celtics and Atalanta co-owner Stephen Pagliuca had also seen their bids shortlisted.
However, The Athletic reported earlier on Friday that Pagliuca had been told that his consortium will not be named as the preferred bidder for Chelsea.
Boehly also faced competition from Ratcliffe, who made an extraordinary last-gasp effort to buy Chelsea on Friday.
Ratcliffe, the owner of Ineos, the petrochemicals giant, held discussions with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck on Thursday before making his offer.
“We put an offer in (on Friday) morning,” Ratcliffe told The Times.
“We are the only British bid. Our motives are simply to try and create a very fine club in London. We have no profit motive because we make our money in other ways.”
Ineos added in a statement: “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.
“We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses. The club is rooted in its community and its fans.”
If a deal with Boehly is not reached, the two other shortlisted consortiums – as well as Ratcliffe – could yet be invited to enter into talks to buy the club.
Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale shortly before he was sanctioned for his alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.
And on Thursday, The Athletic reported that Abramovich asked the three groups bidding to buy the Premier League club to put £500 million more into a foundation he wants to set up for victims of the war in Ukraine.