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Ricketts, Griffin backlash grows as Chelsea bid process gears up for next round

Waiting game

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The Chelsea bidding process appears to be taking a brief breather this week, with the handful of shortlisted offers now gearing up for a second round of ... bidding? negotiating? schmoozing? fine-tuning? face-saving? ... whatever might happen next.

Raine Group reportedly want to be done with their “section” of the process by late April, which would involve choosing a “preferred” bidder to take to the Premier League for approval and the UK Government for a new operating licence application. As per earlier reports from Sky, Raine want final offers in by April 11 and will make their choice by April 18.

That may seem like a fairly relaxed schedule, but I’m sure it’s actually an extremely compressed timeline for this sort of business transaction. The amount of due diligence that needs to be done — and certainly should be done — probably involves more than just counting the money in the suitcase and making a phone call. The various complex consortiums must (or at least are supposed to) have not only the billions in place for the purchase and the continued funding of the club (men, women, academy) but also for the redevelopment of the stadium in the not too distant future as well.

Along those lines, the Boehly-Wyss bid, who still appear to be the odds-on favorites to emerge on top, have already started talking with architects and developers to potentially begin that process, including the director of the project that was shelved by Chelsea a couple years ago. The planning permission for that design expired in 2020 but maybe it could be resurrected without having to start from scratch, he said wistfully staring at those amazing plans. According to the Evening Standard, the third prominent member of the Boehly bid, Jonathan Goldstein, is leading that effort for them — he may be a Spurs fan, but he’s also a property developer in London.

The situation seems to be less rosy for the other bids at the moment, though ultimately that may not matter as much as we might think.

For some, there are apparent conflicts of interest to resolve. Josh Harris, who’s (reportedly) a non-minor part of the Broughton bid, is a part-owner at Crystal Palace, and that’s probably not something that the Premier League will allow. Meanwhile, Stephen Pagliuca, who’s leading the surprise last-minute bid, would need to clarify his exact involvement with Atalanta where he’s co-chairman and part of the majority ownership group — as of just last month, in fact. As cool as it would be to be aligned and allied with La Dea, UEFA would have some questions about the two teams contesting the same continental competitions.

But those concerns may be small fry compared to the concerns around the Ricketts-Griffin bid. The massive fan-led #NoToRicketts backlash is continuing to grow online, and not just because of the anti-Muslim emails of the Ricketts patriarch, but because of their conservative political leanings, their mismanagement of the Cubs, and now also because of Griffin’s business dealings.

At this point we might begin to wonder how this bid has managed to even stay alive, and that could be explained by a report from the Times this morning, which alleges preferential treatment of the Ricketts bid from none other than Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. That’s not a good look from anyone involved, especially with Raine Group making it quite clear that none of the bidders should have any contact with current Chelsea leadership who are involved in the final decision-making process.

Ol’ Brucey’s of course saying he’s done nothing wrong ... but we’ll see.