As the great Gerry Rafferty once wrote about the music industry, there are clowns to the left, jokers to the right, and here he is stuck in the middle with you.
If Rafferty were still alive and making music today, he might write those lines (along with co-writer Joe Egan) about the Chelsea bidding war instead, which unfortunately doesn’t include Loutfy Mansour, who sounded like a potentially promising owner.
Latest on Chelsea – a spokesman for Loutfy Mansour tells me: "In light of the recent media speculation, we want to make it clear that we are not pursuing a bid for Chelsea Football Club at this time." More on @guardian_sport soon #cfc— Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) March 4, 2022
So instead, there are all sorts of clowns and jokers coming out of the woodwork, and not just obvious attention-seekers like former MMA star Conor McGregor, who’s “submitted” his £1.5b opening bid (or about ten times what his net worth might be) on Twitter.
Because that’s how business gets done!
I hereby put forward my offer of £1.5bn. https://t.co/cVL3UcnsDp— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 4, 2022
We also have some dude named Muhsin Bayrak coming in hot with a bold claim that not only is he making a bid, but he’s already finished negotiating and will soon be flying the flag of Turkey over Stamford Bridge as the new owner! Wow!
“We will soon fly the Turkish flag in London.”
Bayrak, who apparently owns a company named AB Grup, complete with an amateurish website (what secure layer?), entry-level PhotoShop skills, at least one Bentley, and an even more hilarious Instagram account, confirmed his intentions to The Guardian as well, so you know, it’s happening!
Türk iş insanı Muhsin Bayrak, Premier Lig devi Chelsea’yi satın almak için Rus milyarder Roman Abramovich’e teklif verdi.— Yeni Şafak (@yenisafak) March 4, 2022
Bayrak: "İmzalar için pazarlık aşamasındayız. Türk bayrağını yakında Londra’da dalgalandıracağız."https://t.co/Fu6maCA53T
And so, we’re stuck with the men in the middle, the Swiss Wyss and Todd
Gack Boehly, though the Wyss-Boehly bid has now become the Boehly-Wyss bid, for what it’s worth, with The Todd bringing most of the money it would appear. However, it would appear that Boehly still doesn’t want to invest more than the £2b or so that Abramovich rejected a few years ago. Welcome to doing things on the cheap!
⚽️ #Chelsea: Abramovich's desired price of 4£bn is a utopia. The offer of the Swiss-American consortium will be much lower. They are preparing an offer over the weekend and believe #Abramovich, who is threatened with sanctions in the UK, is aware that time is running against him.— Nicola Imfeld (@nicola_imfeld) March 4, 2022
This Swiss-American/American-Swiss cheese consortium seem to be banking on Abramovich feeling the pressure from the UK government, but the UK government appear to have their hands tied to some extent (i.e. the extent to which they want them tied) in handing out any swift (or even not-so-swift) sanctions.
“None of us want to live in a country where the state can take your house off you without a very high burden of proof and due process. There’s no point say, yeah, we’re going to go after him, and then you come up against the brick wall of lawyers. So we have to get it right. We’re also trying not to just make this about one individual.”
-PM Boris Johnson; source: La Repubblica via Google Translate
Exclusive:— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) March 3, 2022
Britain will not be able to sanction Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs for weeks of months - if at all
Foreign Office and National Crime Agency have been unable to prove 'reasonable grounds' for designating oligarchshttps://t.co/dUN6YKHxat
In fact, the people in charge of this transaction on the Chelsea side, Raine Group LLC, have reiterated Abramovich’s stated intention to not make this a firesale and follow due process and vet all the takeover candidates financially, politically, and presumably in terms of their sporting ambitions as well. (Though mid-March still seems to be the hard deadline for any bids.)
“We are not going to rush anything. It is very important that Chelsea have the right owner to guide the club forward.”
-Joe Ravitch, Raine co-founder; source: Reuters
We can only hope that some other investors or groups will emerge, though anyone coming in after Abramovich is going to at least look like a massive downgrade (for every facet of the club, and the local community).
ESPN add that “at least 10 credible buyers” have expressed interested, including RedBird Capital (who already have an 11% stake in FSG, and also own Toulouse FC in France) and one led by Michael Rubin of Fanatics fame, who just raised £1.5b in funding, incidentally.