SIR JIM RATCLIFFE is determined to stay in the fight to take over Chelsea – despite being blanked by Roman Abramovich’s chosen deal brokers.
Ratcliffe and his Ineos group made a last ditch attempt to hijack the sale of the Blues when they lodged a bid that would be worth a total of £4.25billion over the next 10 years.
Ineos pledged the £2.5bn asking price for Abromovich’s stake, with a further £1.75bn in investment over the next decade.
Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, envisaged a staged transformation of Stamford Bridge into a potential 60,000-plus capacity stadium, rather than knocking the ground down.
Despite that direct approach, Ineos have been locked out of ongoing “exclusive” talks between the US-based Raine Group and the venture-capital funded bid led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly.
But as Lord Seb Coe, who had backed the consortium led by Sir Martin Broughton, said he wanted a “British bid” to win control of the club, Ineos insisted they will not give up in their quest to emerge as winners.
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An Ineos spokesman told SunSport: “We believe our bid represents the best deal for Chelsea Football Club.
“We have made it clear we are a British bid for a British club, and from an owner who will continue what Roman Abramovich has done for Chelsea.
“That means investing in the club on a long-term basis, with an ambition to drive the future direction of the club for the next 10, 15, or even 20 years.”
Chelsea’s future has been thrown up into the air by suggestions that Abramovich is now demanding the effective return of the £1.6bn he has loaned the club over the past 19 years.
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Government sources, who will have the final say on green-lighting any new owners, have insisted they will not, under any circumstances, allow Abramovich to benefit financially from the sale.
That clouds the picture and could yet see the Boehly deal spiked – a situation that could still open the door for Ineos and Ratcliffe, a boyhood Manchester United fan but also Chelsea season ticket holder.
Ineos recognise that they have been left as outsiders at the gate after Raine – who are being privately accused of favouring US bidders over home-grown ones – told Boehly he had preferred status.
But the company, which also sponsors the former BSkyB cycling team and sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie’s attempts to land the America’s Cup, as well as owning progressive French Ligue 1 outfit Nice, is waiting for the opportunity to get to the negotiating table.
Ineos point to the fact that, unlike the 66 per cent venture capital funded Boehly bid, Ratcliffe would become the sole owner, and do so with a clear promise and commitment for the long term.
COE CALLS FOR UNITY
Meanwhile, Coe urged all sides to find an outcome that guaranteed the club’s status.
He told LBC: “As a Chelsea fan I want to make sure it is done in a way that doesn’t leave the club in hock for generations to come, and that there is investment in the team
“I joined Martin Broughton;s group because it was British. I actually genuinely think the club should end up with British ownership.
“I’m not being jingoistic – I live in a global sporting world where properties are owned – but I do think that football is different.
“What I hope we end up with is a pretty quick and swift set of solutions to this.
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“There is a vacuum here and if we’re not careful it is going to impact on the players and thew coaching.
“You don’t normally see football clubs sold off under these circumstances. So the Government will have to be really clear about what it wants out of this.”
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