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All four final Chelsea bids likely to be cash-only — reports

Debt free

Chelsea’s sale is about to coming to an end Photo by Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Welcome to what is supposed to the Final Bidding Deadline Day for the four shortlisted groups vying to become the news owners of Chelsea Football Club! Exciting!

This deadline was originally Monday, but was pushed back a few days to Thursday for some unspecified reason. From here, Raine Group and Chelsea will be making the determination of the “preferred” offer shortly (maybe a week? maybe more?), at which point the actual transaction and approval process by the powers that be can also begin, and hopefully can finish quickly before the end of the season.

As we’ve heard many times in the past several weeks, this pseudo-auction/forced-sale is supposed to be about more than just the amount of the final bid, with the various consortiums set to be evaluated on all aspects of their plans and commitments to the future of the club — at every level.

One of the bigger financial concerns however is the source and method of their financing, since none of them are just helicoptering in, cash in hand, as Roman Abramovich once did in 2003. Such deals more commonly tend to involve some sort of leveraged debt, which in our case would mean immediately starting on the back foot, with loan repayments already a drain on the bottom line. This is a problem even for a club like Manchester United, let alone Chelsea, who haven’t exactly been profitable over the decades (thus Abramovich’s constant need and willingness to inject some cash). Ladling on debt from day zero would only exacerbate that situation.

Fortunately, as reported by The Times and Forbes, all four bids are likely to be all-cash (or at least all-equity). Three of the four have confirmed this to the Times, while the fourth, the Pagliuca bid is “likely” to be as well, according to a source close to the bid — though they are still working out the “fine details”. Better hurry! (UPDATE: The Paglicua consortium have confirmed it now as well, to PA Sport.)

Previously, we had only heard that the Ricketts bid would be all-cash, but it turns out they’re not unique in that regard even if they do seem to wield supreme financial power. That said, the Boehly bid was said to be “overfunded” even during the initial bidding phase while the Broughton bid apparently raised the necessary funds as well. Forbes’ report, quoting an industry insider, puts all four bids on practically equal financial footing.

Hopefully those tasked with making the final choice will choose wisely indeed ... for the true grail will bring you life, but the false grail will take it from you.