With Jim Ratcliffe’s brother declaring that Premier League clubs have over-inflated price tags and the British billionaire looking to bid for OGC Nice in sunny Southern France instead, not to mention the repeated denials from various Chelsea sources, named and unnamed, including Chairman Bruce Buck and head coach Maurizio Sarri, it was expected that speculation about Chelsea FC being up for sale would end, or at least take a brief break. But the rumor mill neither sleeps nor stops, and we are back at the same point in the circle where we began.
As per the Mail on Sunday, Chelsea have supposedly held “exploratory” talks with three groups, one of them being the aforementioned Jim Ratcliffe, who’s confirmed as no longer interested. The other two are said to have been unnamed finance groups from America and Asia. In support of this claim, the Mail trots out some vague generalities about sports market expectations from a director at London-based Oakwell Capital, who don’t even have a working website.
“There is a renewed interest in Premier League clubs from within the Asian and US investment communities. While domestic television deals have plateaued, the international TV deals have gone up and are expected to continue to rise in the long term. Reputable and well-regarded institutions can see potential for further growth at Premier League clubs.
-Doug Harmer, source: Mail
Obviously, it’s not hard to believe that there would be interest in Chelsea from investment firms all around the world, even if the £2.5 billion valuation put off Ratcliffe, so it’s an easy story for the Mail to peddle. It also fits in with the speculative narratives that have been building for well over a year.
It all began when Roman Abramovich was denied a work visa by the UK Government, which in turn caused him to put the £500m+ plans for a new stadium on hold (probably closer to £1b at final accounting), and forgo his usual purchase of a hospitality suite for his own purposes. He hasn’t been seen at a Chelsea match in well over a year, after being one of the most visible (if unavailable for public comment) owners in top flight football.
While he’s technically allowed to visit the UK as an Israeli citizen, Abramovich remains banned from working in the country, which probably does give him plenty of pause about continuing to pour his money into the club, from the playing staff to the infrastructure to even all the club’s (and the Chelsea Foundation’s) non-football efforts in the local and world-wide community, like the very important anti-Semitism initiative.
But multiple sources have confirmed recently that he remains committed to the cause and the club he’s guided as owner and chief decision-maker, for better or worse, since 2003. We’ll soon be at the end of the 16th year of the Abramovich Era, with at least 17 trophies sitting in the cabinet. Here’s to the next 16 years and 17 trophies.