A co-owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team and Atalanta, the Italian soccer club, has become one of the parties who have submitted offers to buy Chelsea FC.
Sky News has learned that Stephen Pagliuca, a prominent private equity executive who co-chairs Bain Capital, submitted a bid for the Premier League club before a deadline at the end of last week.
It was unclear on Thursday whether Mr Pagliuca had bid for Chelsea alone or in conjunction with partners.
If Mr. Pagliuca is not on a shortlist of bidders expected to be selected shortly by Raine Group, the investment bank handling the sale, he may seek to team up with one of the remaining consortia.
The field of publicly disclosed bidders and co-investors has continued to widen since last Friday’s deadline, turning Chelsea’s auction into the potentially most lucrative sale of a sports franchise in history.
Sky News can also reveal that Empowerment IP, a rights monetization company run by sports financier Stephen Duval, has submitted a revised £3.1billion proposal to Raine in recent days.
Of this sum, £1 billion was reportedly offered to acquire Chelsea’s share capital, with £2.1 billion earmarked for investment in the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, players and academy.
Empowerment, which has close ties to mixed martial arts debut Conor McGregor, has included a fan bond in its offer which would commit Chelsea supporters to owning no less than 25% of the shares.
It emerged on Thursday that Raine had asked bidders to give binding assurances over future spending on the club and its grounds before finalizing the shortlist of candidates to succeed Roman Abramovich as owner.
“They want guarantees on future capital funding for the club and stadium, and money on the balance sheet, so they can be sure they are picking the best future owner for Chelsea,” an insider said.
Mr Pagliuca’s emergence as a bidder matches the list of players who have offered to buy the south-west London club from Mr Abramovich.
At least five existing owners of U.S. basketball and baseball teams are among the bidders for Chelsea, with consortia involving LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and Philadelphia 76ers backer Josh Harris among strong contenders. purchase of the club after the sanction of Mr. Abramovich.
The group of American sports billionaires who surround Chelsea point to how the English Premier League has become a magnet for investors from across the Atlantic over the past 20 years.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were all acquired by US-based businessmen during this period, and a significant number of other top clubs also benefit from US backing.
Sky News revealed on Thursday that the fearsome US hedge fund that owns AC Milan has agreed to help fund property developer Nick Candy’s bid for Chelsea.
Elliott Management, the New York-based investor led by Paul Singer, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump during the Republican presidency, is said to have committed a substantial amount of capital to Mr Candy’s bid.
The fund has controlled AC Milan since 2018, although recent reports in Italy suggest it could seek to sell the club within the next two years, after seeing it re-emerge as a powerhouse in European football.
A bidding frenzy among major global investors, billionaires and sports owners has raised the prospect that Mr Abramovich’s initial £3billion price will be met.
Three or four candidates are expected to be told by Raine that they will have a chance of securing a deal to buy Chelsea by the end of April.
Before being sanctioned, Mr Abramovich said he intended to write off a £1.5billion loan to the club and donate the net proceeds from the sale to a new charity that he would create for the benefit of the victims of the war in Ukraine.
The Premier League disqualified Mr Abramovich from being a Chelsea manager, but said the move would not affect the players’ ability to train or complete the club’s matches.
This week the government agreed to new amendments to a special license that allows Chelsea to continue operating, allowing them to resume selling tickets for away games, with profits held by the Premier League and intended for a charity helping Ukrainian war victims.
Chelsea can also now receive £30million from their parent company to ease cash constraints caused by the current crisis.
A quick sale is seen as essential if Chelsea are to avoid the uncertainty that would trigger the disbandment of one of the elite’s most valuable player squads.
Last season’s Champions League winners were upset by Russia’s war with Ukraine, with Mr Abramovich initially offering to hand the club over to his foundation and then officially put it up for sale.
Mr Abramovich had initially set a £3billion price tag on the Stamford Bridge outfit, with the net proceeds going to a charity set up to benefit victims of war in Ukraine.
Anyone buying the club will need government consent in the form of a special license as well as Premier League approval as part of their test of ownership.
Neither Mr. Pagliuca nor public relations advisers at Bain Capital responded to a request for comment, while Empowerment declined to comment.
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