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Chelsea sale: Chicago Cubs owners and Citadel billionaire Ken Griffin team up to bid for Champions League holders

Latest bid described as "the most complete bid on the table"; Griffin's wealth estimated at $26.5bn by Forbes magazine; former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli has been hired by Nick Candy to advise on his offer; Lord Sebastian Coe has joined Sir Martin Broughton's consortium bid

Thomas Ricketts and Ken Griffin

The owners of the Chicago Cubs and Ken Griffin, the billionaire hedge fund tycoon, have joined forces to table a blockbuster bid for Chelsea Football Club.

Sky News revealed that the Ricketts family, who are long-term admirers of Chelsea, and Griffin have formed an investment group that will lodge a formal offer for last season's Champions League winners on Friday - the deadline set for bids to be in.

The development, which will be publicly announced on Wednesday, presents a formidable competitor to rival bidders as Roman Abramovich's 19-year tenure as Chelsea's owner draws to a conclusion.

Sources close to their impending bid said the Ricketts' record of success with the Chicago Cubs and the financial firepower of their consortium would make an ideal recipe for success at Stamford Bridge.

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Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman reports that the Ricketts family - owners of the Chicago Cubs - have confirmed that they will bid for Chelsea on Friday. Billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin is also involved in the bid.

The last six years have been the most successful in the Cubs' history - winning the World Series and completing a $1bn renovation of the team's home, Wrigley Field, which is one of the most historic sports arenas in the US, having been built in 1914.

A source close to the consortium said it had been the largest privately financed stadium restoration project in US history. "Wrigley Field was transformed from terminal disrepair to a national treasure," the source said.

That narrative is expected to be deployed amid the ongoing debate about the future of Stamford Bridge, which Chelsea fans and executives generally accept will need extensive expansion work if the club is to compete sustainably with European rivals which boast much larger capacities.

Also See:

A general view of right field bleacher construction at Wrigley Field from a rooftop on Sheffield avenue. Image taken in 2015
Image: Chicago Cubs stadium Wrigley Field under construction in 2015
An aerial shows Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Image taken in 2020
Image: Wrigley Field in 2020

Griffin's involvement adds enormous financial clout to the bid. He is the founder and chief executive of Citadel Asset Management and among the most successful executives in the history of Wall Street.

Forbes magazine recently estimated his wealth at $26.5bn, making him the richest individual to be publicly linked with the Chelsea auction so far and three times richer than Abramovich.

The source said the Ricketts-Griffin bid would be "the most complete bid on the table - no one else has had the on-field success the Ricketts Family have had with the Cubs, combined with successfully completing a massive renovation of an historic stadium".

A statement from the Ricketts family confirmed the bid and added: "As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts Family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.

"We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course."

Rival bidders want to work with Candy | Vialli hired

Meanwhile, other bidders are also considering joining forces as the race for Chelsea heats up. It is understood bidders are interested in joining forces with life-long Chelsea fan Nick Candy, due to his record of developing property in central London.

The former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli has been hired by Candy to advise on his looming offer for the crisis-hit Premier League club.

Vialli said in a statement: "I am proud and feel very privileged to support Mr Candy's bid to buy Chelsea Football Club. I have met Nick Candy on a number of occasions over the last few weeks and I am fully behind his visions and commitment to make Chelsea the most globally recognised and supported club in the world, as well as maintaining the ongoing success on the pitch.

"We share the same view that if the bid is successful, we will try to be the best possible custodians of the club, knowing that it is imperative that supporter concerns are front and centre of any owner's priorities."

A spokesperson for the Candy bid said on Wednesday: "The Candy bid has appointed Tifosy to act as lead advisor for the process. Tifosy have worked on some of the top football transactions in Europe including Manchester United, Juventus, AS Roma and Inter Milan. The company is co-founded by former professional footballer and truly adored Chelsea player, Gianlucca Vialli. Their work on the data and business analysis so far has been outstanding."

Candy has the funds and backers in place to make an offer for Chelsea this week. He has promised to give Chelsea fans a seat on its board if his bid is successful.

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Property developer and prospective Chelsea owner Nick Candy says he loves the club and doesn't mind who takes over as long as it is in safe hands

In an interview with Sky Sports News before Chelsea's Premier League victory over Newcastle on Sunday, Candy revealed his passion for the club and his desire to become Roman Abramovich's successor, who was sanctioned last week after announcing his desire to sell the Blues.

"I've supported Chelsea since I was the age of four," Candy told Sky Sports. "My dad was asked to play for Chelsea. I love Chelsea. I don't mind where it ends up, even if it's not with me, as long as it's in safe hands.

"One hundred per cent [the fans need to be included in ownership] and they should be involved. Both on the board and economically."

Coe joins Broughton's consortium in bid

Lord Sebastian Coe has joined Sir Martin Broughton's consortium bid to buy Chelsea. The head of London's 2012 Olympics has thrown his weight behind former Liverpool chairman Broughton's bid for the Blues.

Coe would take a seat on Chelsea's board should Broughton be successful in his candidacy to buy the Stamford Bridge club. Coe hailed Broughton as the perfect person to take the Chelsea helm, in the wake of Abramovich's sale of the Blues.

"I am certain that Sir Martin is the right man to lead Chelsea Football Club into its next chapter," said Coe. "He has an exceptional track record in British business, as well as unrivalled experience in shepherding Liverpool out of a very difficult situation.

"He has the vision, acumen and financial backing to ensure our club's future success, keeping Chelsea Football Club at the top of European football and challenging for trophies.

"But most importantly, like me, he is a lifelong Chelsea supporter and shed end season ticket holder. I know that this bid is for the millions of Chelsea fans around the world. We love our club and will always put the fans first."

No ticket sales for CL game | But govt discuss third party option for sales

Sky Sports News understands Chelsea will not be able to sell tickets for any future home Champions League games this season while Abramovich owns the club and EU sanctions are in force.

The UK Government have however suggested to Chelsea they could start selling match tickets through a third party organisation to get past the sanctions placed on owner Abramovich.

The Blues cannot sell any more tickets to their fans - nor release any away tickets to visiting fans for Stamford Bridge games - under the licence handed to the Russian owner and the club last week.

Chelsea requested this weekend's FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough be played behind closed doors as the lack of Blues away fans there would damage the "sporting integrity" of the fixture and the competition. However, the west London club revoked that request after strong backlash from the football community.

However, the government want to let Chelsea start selling tickets again as soon as possible and one of the proposals they are working on is to hand over responsibility for selling tickets to a third party.

A third party would oversee the distribution of tickets to ensure that Roman Abramovich was not benefiting from the proceeds in any way.

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