London (AFP) – The Ricketts-led consortium announced on Friday it had withdrawn its bid to buy Premier League club Chelsea, which is being sold by owner Roman Abramovich.
The Chicago Cubs owners and their partners opted not to submit a final bid for the Blues, with the consortium members understood to be unable to agree the final composition of their offer.
Cubs owners Tom and Laura Ricketts had partnered with US billionaires Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert on a cash-only bid to buy the Blues.
Final bids were due to be submitted to New York merchant bank the Raine Group on Thursday, but the Ricketts-led group has now withdrawn its candidacy.
“The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea FC,” read a Ricketts family statement.
“In the process of finalising the proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process.
“We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans and we wish the new owners well.”
The Ricketts’ bid for Chelsea had come under fire from Blues supporters over historical emails from family patriarch Joe Ricketts.
Joe Ricketts, who was not involved in the family bid for the London club, was accused of Islamophobia in 2019 after emails were leaked.
He later apologised for his comments and the family said in a statement last month that it “rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms”.
Fans had staged a small demonstration at Stamford Bridge but reports said the controversy had not played any part in the withdrawal of the Ricketts bid.
Russian billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was subsequently targeted by UK sanctions.
Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.
Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5 billion ($2 billion) debt.
The Ricketts’ withdrawal leaves LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, Martin Broughton and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca as the remaining Chelsea bidders.