Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid to buy Chelsea has been “rejected out of hand” but he remains interested in buying the club.
The 69-year-old – who is the CEO of Ineos Group Ltd and widely regarded to be Britain’s richest person – tabled a last-minute £ 4.25 billion bid to buy the Blues on Friday.
However, it is understood that Ratcliffe has not engaged in the process set out by the Raine Group, making it difficult for his bid to be considered.
A consortium led by American businessman Todd Boehly have been named as the preferred bidders by the Raine Group and they have until the end of this week to finalize the terms of an agreement to buy the club.
That bid is currently being scrutinized by the Premier League to see if it passes their owners and directors test.
Ineos director Tom Crotty told Bloomberg on Wednesday: “We’ve been rejected out of hand by Raine but we will keep reminding people we are still here.”
Two additional parties also remain interested in taking over the club: one led by Sir Martin Broughton, the former Liverpool and British Airways chairman, which includes the billionaire Crystal Palace shareholders Dave Blitzer and Josh Harris and another led by Stephen Pagliuca, part-owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Serie A’s Atalanta.
The latter, however, were informed they are not the preferred bidder before Boehly’s consortium was favored.
Chelsea’s sale has a deadline of May 31, when the Government’s temporary license for the Blues expires.
Coe: Important to get future of club resolved, but this can not go on indefinitely
Lord Sebastian Coe has partnered with Broughton’s bid for Chelsea, with the World Athletics president adding political and sporting administrative clout to the ex-British Airways chief executive’s consortium.
While Coe conceded Boehly’s bid now has the edge, he insisted he remained committed to Broughton’s consortium should circumstances change.
“It’s not the clearest of processes because all we know at the moment is that one bid which has gone into an exclusive negotiation,” he told LBC.
“But there are other bids out there, I’m still very excited about the bid we put together with Martin.”
Chelsea fan Coe called upon a swift resolution whoever the eventual buyer to allow the Blues to resume normal business.
“I subscribe to the view that you can not have this going on indefinitely,” said Coe.
“There are all sorts of things that are at play here and particularly the performance of a team. I know this as well as anybody – uncertainty in sport, uncertainty in performance, is a real challenge.
“You’ve got coaches sitting there wondering what is happening, players who are looking over their shoulders. It is really important this gets resolved.
“But it needs to be done carefully and properly and actually you can not hurry this if there are still questions about ownership and bids, it’s inevitable.”
What will happen if Chelsea are not sold by the end of this month?
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter, Kaveh Solhekol:
“Strictly speaking Chelsea should have stopped playing and trading on March 10 when their owner was sanctioned. They have remained in business only because they have been given a special license by the government.
“The license runs out on 31 May so you could argue that the club could go out of business unless they have new owners by the end of this month.
“But it is highly unlikely that the government would effectively close down the club and despite what may be said in private they would almost certainly extend the license.
“That would still cause plenty of problems though especially as the Premier League are meeting on June 8 to constitute the new season and there would be question marks about Chelsea’s future if Roman Abramovich is still in charge.”