New York Jets owner, and former US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson was one of the first confirmed bidders in the running for Chelsea Football Club, but he did not make it past the first round of bidding after his offer was not shortlisted by Raine Group for the second (and final) round.
Johnson, who purchased the Jets for a then near-record $635m in 2000 — Chelsea would go for barely a third of that three years later to Abramovich, for perspective — was evidently not willing to go as high as it had become necessary to stay in the running, as he revealed at the NFL Owners Meeting over the weekend.
“Not getting Chelsea is disappointing, but the numbers have gotten so enormous that on one hand I’m disappointed and on the other hand, financially, I think it’s going to be a huge challenge.”
Considering that only 6 of the 32 NFL franchises have a worse winning percentage than the Jets since Johnson bought the team — and it’s even worse for them if you look at more recent timeframes — it’s probably for the best that he had already dropped out, even if he does understand one important concept: London is Blue.
“My interest in Chelsea is I’m a fan of Chelsea. When I was over there, I couldn’t be a fan of a particular team. I had to be diplomatic. I had to like all the teams, but we were Chelsea fans. It’s London’s team. The concept of New York and London, I thought was one that we could do pretty well with that. I thought it would be another interesting endeavor for us.”
-Woody Johnson; source: ESPN
For any new owner to “do pretty well” at Chelsea, to keep us competitive at the very top level of the game, they’ll have to understand and be willing to spend on not only the sporting side of the operation, but also take care of the stadium “boondoggle”. Thus the supposed requirement from Raine to earmark at least £1b from the bid for those efforts. That was a commitment one step too far even for Abramovich — even before his visa situation came to the fore and stopped things, he was already looking for outside investment — but perhaps by rolling that price into the selling price of the club, we can attenuate the financial hit of redeveloping Stamford Bridge.