Thomas Tuchel is confident that Chelsea’s next owner will be more interested in winning trophies than making money.
Chelsea are in an uncertain position as they face up to a future without Roman Abramovich and it remains to be seen who will buy the club from the Russian oligarch. The deadline to submit offers to the Raine Group passed on Friday night, with a consortium led by Todd Boehly, Hansjörg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein viewed as the leading candidate among those groups who have shown their hand publicly.
Their chances have been boosted after it emerged that the consortium is receiving extra funding from Clearlake Capital, a California investment firm with more than £45.5bn of assets under management.
Raine, the US bank handling the process, received at least 30 offers and its next step will involve selecting a handpicked few to proceed to the next stage. Offers were arriving close to the deadline and on Friday evening it was confirmed that The Blue Football Consortium had made a bid. The group is led by British property tycoon Nicky Candy and involves two Korean companies, Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group. “I can confirm that the two South Korean firms Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group are a significant part of Mr Candy’s global consortium of investors,” read a statement. “Their involvement is representative of Chelsea’s global brand and huge loyal fan base in Asia.”
Among its commitments should a successful acquisition go ahead, the consortium is promising to provide fans with an opportunity to acquire a share of the economic and voting rights in the club. “Chelsea is one of the most iconic and successful professional football clubs in the world, with a rich heritage, global following, and a highly valuable brand,” said Candy. “Football clubs are vitally important community and cultural assets, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give football back to the fans and put them at the heart of the operations and strategy of a leading global football club.”
Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family, in partnership with the billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin, also submitted an offer on Friday evening, as did a consortium led by former British Airways chairman Martin Broughton and World Athletics president, and Chelsea fan, Sebastian Coe.
“The plan will guarantee that the club is never beholden to a single individual or sovereign wealth fund, ensuring that the club never faces a crisis like this again,” read a statement outlining Broughton’s plans. The 74-year-old also acted as Liverpool’s chairman in 2010 to oversee the club’s sale away from the control of Tom Hicks and George Gillett and to current owners the Fenway Sports Group, who have ushered in sustained success at Anfield.
The winning group is expected to pay between £2bn and £3bn – the offer from The Blue Football Consortium is believed to be over £2bn – and Tuchel, speaking before Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough on Saturday, was asked whether that kind of price for a Premier League club is sustainable.
“If somebody buys a club for this amount of money then it’s about challenging on the highest kind of level, then it’s about trophies, then it’s about winning and then it’s about being the best you can,” Chelsea’s manager replied. “It’s not about developing a project, it’s not about making money with the club.
“Who am I? I don’t know the ideas behind buying a club or any organisation for this amount of money because I cannot afford it and I will never be able to. But that’s what I hope and what I think. I think Chelsea as a club and a structure and an organisation has an awful to offer, and that’s why the price is like it is.”
Tuchel, who dismissed suggestions that Manchester United could lure him from Stamford Bridge, said he did not know much about the owners of American sports teams amid interest in Chelsea from the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, and Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets. “I know the teams but the owners are not so familiar to me,” he said. “I pretty much watch almost every sport because I simply love it – I watch American sport too.”
Chelsea are operating under a restrictive licence as a result of sanctions imposed on Abramovich and have had their travel costs capped at £20,000. However Tuchel confirmed they had been allowed to fly to Middlesbrough.
There will be only about 700 away fans there after Chelsea’s licence prevented them from taking their full allocation. They are not permitted to sell tickets and unless a new owner arrives soon they face having no fans at either leg of next month’s Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.
Abramovich transferred a company he controlled with tens of millions of dollars of investments, Ervington Investments Limited, to the Chelsea director Eugene Tenenbaum on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, UK corporate filings showed. Tenenbaum told Reuters the purchase was in compliance with laws and regulations.