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Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘not giving up’ on buying Premier League club

Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe says he is “not giving up” on taking over Chelsea despite “disappointing communication” over his £4.25bn offer.

Ratcliffe, the majority shareholder of chemical group Ineos, made the late bid for the Premier League club on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ineos director Tom Crotty said the offer had been rejected by the firm handling the sale.

But, speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, Ratcliffe said: “Consideration should be given to a British bid.”

A consortium led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly is understood to be the preferred bidder for Chelsea.

American investment firm Raine has been tasked with selling Chelsea and the UK government is expected to issue a new licence, allowing the club to be sold, once a preferred buyer has been highlighted.

Ratcliffe said his group had held “positive talks” with the UK government, but has not spoken to current Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

“We had a communication with Raine and met with them at the end of last week. We presented a bid but have heard very little back from them,” Ratcliffe told the BBC in his first interview since making the last-gasp bid.

“My message to Raine is don’t discount our offer. We are British and have great intentions for Chelsea. If I was Raine I wouldn’t close any door.”

In a wide-ranging interview in Madrid, Ratcliffe also said:

  • He is originally a Manchester United fan and said he has “split loyalties” between the two clubs
  • He wants to turn Chelsea into a club of “the same stature as the city of London”
  • The bid is not about making profit from Chelsea as Ineos makes “lots of money from chemicals”
  • Stamford Bridge needs a “world-class capacity as well as a world-class stadium” and will not be renamed
  • Significant investment would go into Chelsea’s women’s and academy teams
  • His group “couldn’t get comfortable” with Chelsea’s valuation when they first expressed interest in buying the club in 2018
  • France striker Kylian Mbappe would be his dream signing for Chelsea, but concedes he is likely to move to Real Madrid
  • He thinks current Blues manager Thomas Tuchel is “excellent”

Why didn’t Ratcliffe and Ineos bid earlier?

Abramovich announced on 2 March he was planning to sell the club, shortly before he was sanctioned by the UK government in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian billionaire is understood to have strong ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his assets, including Chelsea, were frozen.

Ratcliffe, whose company bought the Team Sky cycling franchise in 2019 and runs French football team Nice, has pledged to invest £1.75bn into the club over 10 years.

But the offer arrived on Friday morning, weeks beyond the initial deadline for bids of 18 March.

Asked why his group’s bid was submitted late, Ratcliffe said: “I think that is quite simple – it is a big decision to buy a national asset and it’s a big commitment in terms of time and money.

“We’re there for the long term. That’s a lot of responsibility to take on and it takes time to reach a decision to be fully committed.

“We got there at the end of the day and we are committed. We’re not giving up.”

What would Ratcliffe and Ineos bring to Chelsea?

Ratcliffe, 69, emphasised on several occasions how he thought a “British business buying a British asset” should be an important consideration in the bidding process for Chelsea.

He suggested some non-British owners “do not understand the heritage” of Premier League clubs and claims there has been “a lot of angst” about Chelsea ending up “in the hands of people who don’t have a long-term vision for it”.

American investor and businessman Boehly – who has offered around £2.5bn for the club – has a reported net worth of $4.5bn (£3.6bn) according to Forbes.

He is a part owner of the Dodgers – a US baseball franchise – and US women’s basketball outfit the Los Angeles Sparks, while he also owns a stake in the renowned LA Lakers NBA franchise.

His consortium includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, American PR executive Barbara Charone, British businessman Jonathan Goldstein and British journalist Daniel Finkelstein.

But the bid is being financed by California-based private equity group Clearlake Capital which is expected to have most of Chelsea’s shares if the consortium succeeds.

“I don’t know Todd and I don’t know his group,” Ratcliffe said.

“What I do know is I spent quite a few years of my life working in the world of venture capital and private equity.

“Your focus is always on how do I invest and make that money grow, and it’s typically a five-year time horizon – and their main funder is private equity and venture capital.”

“In America the big sports clubs won’t allow those people to come in and buy the clubs, so you can’t buy an NFL football club, but in the UK you can.

“We’re not interested in making money out of Chelsea. The investment in Chelsea is a long-term thing.

“Can we run that club really, really well and turn it into one of the finest clubs in Europe? That’s our ambition with Chelsea.”

Why is a Manchester United fan bidding for Chelsea?

Lancashire-born Ratcliffe says he is still a Manchester United fan because he used to watch them when he was growing up.

He says he has made no secret of the fact he has been interested in buying a Premier League club and adds the reason he is not bidding for the Red Devils is simple: they are not for sale.

On his attraction to Chelsea, he said: “I have a house in Chelsea, I’ve lived in Chelsea for many years, I’ve had a season ticket for many years, I have a business that’s based in Chelsea.

“Then if you look at the wider picture of football – football is the biggest sport in the world, the British league is the biggest league in the world and Chelsea is one of the best clubs in that league.

“When I was living in London for many years, Chelsea I could go and watch. It was quite difficult to go and watch United so I have split loyalties.”

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