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Ricketts family want to meet Chelsea fans as #NoToRicketts trends to new heights on Twitter

Uphill battle

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St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Ricketts family’s bid for Chelsea Football Club was first reported on March 6, with a bid confirmed ten days later, on the 16th, well ahead of the deadline that was set for Friday, March 18. It looked to be ticking all of Raine Group’s boxes.

However, the bid, which is also backed by the personal wealth of billionaire Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel, is fighting some increasing headwinds, especially after reports over the past 24 hours made them one of the likely offers to be shortlisted by Raine Group.

The #NoToRicketts hashtag was trending all day Tuesday — 100k and counting — centered largely around the anti-Muslim emails sent by the Ricketts family patriarch, Joe Ricketts, a few years ago, but also around their general political affiliations, not to mention their (mis-)management of the Chicago Cubs, dismantling a World Series-winning team while also mining the local community and infrastructure for profits.

They themselves will no doubt paint those sporting and business decisions in different light, and are in fact hoping to do so in person by flying over to London and offering to meet with key Chelsea fan groups, including Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) and Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST), which is only fair. Tom Ricketts has already met with the local MP, Greg Hands, whose positive tweet was a lone rock in a rushing sea of negative sentiment.

Twitter is of course not the real world, as much as Twitter wants to believe otherwise, so just because a hashtag is trending, it doesn’t mean that the bid has automatically failed.

The (rest of the) Ricketts family have repeatedly tried to distance themselves from that email controversy, and denounce, at least publicly, the bigoted views of their father, who is claimed to be not involved in this bid. Obviously, that’s a hard sell, regardless of what the actual truth of the situation and what their actual views might be.

UPDATE: The Ricketts family released the following statement on Wednesday as well:

“Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms. Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society. We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of colour.

“Respect for diversity and inclusion are central to our family’s values. If we prevail in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values.”

-Ricketts family statement; source: BBC

On the sporting side of the bid, the Cubbies have fallen on hard times again, with many laying the blame at the owners’ feet. That may or may not be fair, though it may be worth pointing out the danger in drawing too many parallels between running American sports franchises and European sports teams when it comes to performance: the last two NFL titles have been won by the Glazers and then the Kroenkes.

One would hope that Raine Group and whoever at Chelsea’s picking the winners of this auction do at least acknowledge the fans’ discontent. While I’m always vary of giving fans too much power, especially in the cesspool that is often Twitter — we’re far too fickle, in general, for that sort of responsibility — surely there are some other serious bids that come with less “baggage”, if nothing else?

Oh, and speaking of bids with baggage, the owners of the disqualified Kentucky Derby Winner, Medina Spirit have been revealed as another bid in the running, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today). The Los Angeles-born Amr Zedan’s leading this US-Saudi effort. He’s also the chairman of Zedan Group, a player in the Saudi energy business, though it’s unclear if they are actually involved in any capacity or if the financing’s coming from elsewhere.

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