A spokesperson for Sir Jim Ratcliffe confirmed the offer to buy Chelsea: "This is a British bid, for a British club"; Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca out of running, leaving Todd Boehly and Sir Martin Broughton now battling it out with Ratcliffe for ownership.
Friday 29 April 2022 17:55, UK
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has tabled a last-minute £4.25billion bid to buy Chelsea.
Ratcliffe held talks with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck on Thursday and submitted the offer for the Stamford Bridge club on Friday.
The 69-year-old explored in detail a possible bid for the Blues back in 2019, only to buy French club Nice instead.
But a spokesperson for Ratcliffe confirmed the British business magnate's offer to buy Chelsea, with the bid understood now to represent the highest for the club.
"We put an offer in this morning," Ratcliffe told The Times.
"We are the only British bid. Our motives are simply to try and create a very fine club in London. We have no profit motive because we make our money in other ways."
Chelsea have told the consortium led by Stephen Pagliuca, part-owner of the NBA's Boston Celtics and Serie A's Atalanta, it is not the preferred bidder - leaving Ratcliffe to battle it out with the two other remaining offers:
Chelsea will still hope to have a new owner in place by the end of May, despite any delays that come from Ratcliffe's late entry into the race for the Stamford Bridge club.
Once the Raine Group selects a preferred bidder, the Government must then grant a new licence to allow the sale to be completed.
Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, amid Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine.
The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven links between the Russian-Israeli billionaire and Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich has owned Chelsea for 19 years, leading the club to 21 trophies in a glittering tenure.
"Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of Ineos, has made a formal bid for Chelsea FC, for £4.25bn. £2.5bn is committed to the Charitable Trust to support victims of the war, with £1.75bn committed to investment directly into the club over the next 10 years.
"This is a British bid, for a British club.
"We believe that a club is bigger than its owners who are temporary custodians of a great tradition. With responsibility to the fans and the community.
"That is why we are committing to spending £1.75bn over 10 years that will be for the direct benefit of the club.
"We will invest in Stamford Bridge to make it a world-class stadium, befitting of Chelsea FC.
"This will be organic and ongoing so that we will not move away from the home of Chelsea and risk losing the support of loyal fans.
"We will continue to invest in the team to ensure we have a first-class squad of the world's greatest players, coaches and support staff, in the men's and women's games.
"And we hope to continue to invest in the academy to provide opportunity for talented youngsters to develop into first class players.
"We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club.
"We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game - not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses. The club is rooted in its community and its fans. And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea FC for that reason.
"No further comment will be made from Sir Jim or INEOS during the bidding process."
Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
"This is a twist in the tale. It's not entirely unexpected because we've known for a long time that Sir Jim Radcliffe has wanted to buy an English football club. He's a Chelsea season ticket holder and there's been lots of talk of him wanting to buy Chelsea in the past.
"A few weeks ago when Chelsea was put up for sale because Roman Abramovich was sanctioned, we - along with lots of other reporters - got in touch with Sir Jim Radcliffe's associates and representatives and asked if he was interested in buying Chelsea this time around.
"The message was very clear - he wasn't interested and wouldn't be bidding for Chelsea. Yes, he does invest in football clubs, but the feeling was he didn't think there was any value and that Chelsea were overpriced. The feeling was he wasn't the kind of person that was going to pay two, three, four billion pounds for a football club.
"But obviously, something has changed in the last few weeks. He has seen how much interest there is in buying Chelsea, especially from US sports investors, US hedge funds, US financiers and maybe he's thought 'all these guys think there's a lot of money to be made from Chelsea, maybe this is something I should be getting involved with as well'.
"We should point out this was a story first reported by Matt Dickinson in The Times maybe about 90 minutes ago. What is also interesting is that according to Matt and the people he has spoken to said Jim Ratcliffe doesn't see this as a way to make money. We need to be a bit careful because when you're as rich as Jim Radcliffe is, you invest your money wisely do he must think it's a good investment.
"But I don't think his priority or overriding concern is making money out of Chelsea. He obviously thinks it's a good investment, but I think there's an emotional connection to the club as well and he feels he can be an owner of it, a guardian and steward of the club and invest in it going forward.
"I know some people might be thinking the deadline has passed so how has he been doing this so late, but I think he's been playing a very clever game. We've always said there was a deadline to put bids in, but it wasn't a hard and fast deadline. If you picked up the phone and got in touch with the Raine Group and put in a bid after the deadline, they were always going listen to what you have to say.
"He's already got interest in football. He's made his money from a company called Ineos, which is a massive petrochemical company. He's also set up a company called Ineos football and that company, he invested in the French team Nice and also the Swiss team FC Lausanne, so he already owns two football clubs.
"If he was to buy Chelsea, you couldn't have a situation where Nice and Chelsea were playing in the Champions League, that wouldn't be allowed under UEFA rules. I think one would be able to play in the Champions League and the other wouldn't be able to play any higher than the Europa Conference League.
"His strategy up until today has always been that he bought Nice because he thought there was great value in it. it didn't cost him much, I think he bought it from Chinese owners so he's buying club that he thinks there is value in.
"With Chelsea, he's paying a massive blockbuster price - £2.5bn plus a commitment to invest £1.75bn over the next decade in the infrastructure and the team, redeveloping Stamford Bridge as well. it's a massive investment.
"If I was a Chelsea supporter, this is the bid I'd be most excited about because this is somebody you can relate to in the same way that a lot of Chelsea supporters related to Roman Abramovich.
"Jim Radcliffe is a very rich man, he's made all his own money… People are saying he's worth twice as much as Abramovich is at the moment.
"A lot of Chelsea supporters like the idea that they're owned by somebody British, somebody who is a Chelsea season ticket holder and has his own money, rather than the fact that they would be owned by a group of US investors who you would have to say, despite everything they say in public, you wonder why they are buying the club and it's because they spot a business opportunity.
"I'm sure Jim Ratcliffe does as well, but I think he's got a connection with the club as well.
"Significantly, he says he's got the money ready to go. He can pay for it this weekend if they accept his offer, he will put the money on the table and buy Chelsea.
"He also says he's been in touch with the UK Government because they need to provide this special licence for Abramovich to sell Chelsea and he'd need to pass the Premier League's owners and directors test as well. There's still a few more hurdles to get over.
"The big question then is what happens to the £4bn? Because Abramovich is not allowed to get one penny from the proceeds of this sale. It's still very opaque, different people telling us different things - the money is going to go to a frozen bank account, it'll go to charity - this is something we have to keep a close eye on going forward."