Nick Candy offering to provide short-term funding to Chelsea if it faces cash crunch because of government-imposed restrictions; Candy also pledges fans' seat on board if his bid for Chelsea is successful as the bank handling the sale of the club ask for best bids to be submitted by Friday
Monday 14 March 2022 22:07, UK
The property developer Nick Candy has promised to give Chelsea fans a seat on its board if his bid to buy the Stamford Bridge club is successful.
Candy's declaration comes against a backdrop of senior executives at Chelsea trying to work out how the club can sustain itself financially if it is not sold as quickly as possible.
The investment bank handling the sale of the club has asked for best bids to be submitted by Friday.
The UK Government is committed to keeping Chelsea in business and is overseeing the sale - it regards Chelsea as a "significant cultural asset" which needs to be protected.
Candy is in talks with financiers about joining his bid ahead of the deadline, and is also offering to provide short-term funding to Chelsea if it faces a cash crunch following the sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich. Sanctioning Abramovich has also been discussed by the European Union during talks in Brussels.
EU ambassadors met for talks in Brussels about sanctioning more Russian businessmen because of their links to Vladimir Putin. Abramovich is one of 15 names under consideration. Alisher Usmanov, who has commercial ties with Everton, was sanctioned by the EU earlier this month.
Candy's offer for Chelsea would be subject to compliance with the strict conditions imposed by the government as part of the licence granted last week that enables the club to continue operating.
Last season's Champions League winners have been thrown into disarray by Russia's war on Ukraine, with Mr Abramovich initially proposing to place the club in the care of its foundation and then formally putting it up for sale.
"I've supported Chelsea since I was the age of four," Mr 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."
The proposal to offer Chelsea fans a board seat reflects a belief on Mr Candy's part that supporters should have a meaningful say over the running of one of the world's biggest clubs.
His pledge comes as the government prepares to respond to a review of football governance published by Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister, earlier this year.
Among Ms Crouch's central recommendations were for a 'golden share' in clubs that would protect key aspects of their heritage.
A spokesperson for Nick Candy told Sky News on Sunday: "We welcome the news that the sale of the club will be conducted quickly.
"This is a reassuring development for fans after a week of great uncertainty.
"Mr Candy cares hugely about the future of the club and believes that the fans and the community are central to its continued success.
"Should his bid be successful, Mr Candy would advocate for a fan representative to join the board so supporters become part of the decision-making process.
"If the club requires money to operate in the short term, Mr Candy would be happy to help ensure it has the necessary financial resources, subject to government approval."
Mr Candy, whose interest in buying Chelsea was revealed by Sky News last weekend, plans to attend the home match against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Sunday - which will be shown live on Sky Sports - the spokesperson added.
The field of prospective bidders for Chelsea has continued to grow even since the government announced that Mr Abramovich was being sanctioned, cutting off the club's principal source of financing over the last two decades.
This weekend, Sky News revealed that Jonathan Goldstein, another London-based property executive, had joined the consortium led by LA Dodgers-backer Todd Boehly.
Sir Martin Broughton, the former British Airways and Liverpool FC chairman and a lifelong Chelsea fan, is also in talks to enter the auction either in partnership with another bidder or at the helm of his own consortium.
The many remaining questions about the sale of Chelsea now concern the price that a buyer will have to pay, the destination of the proceeds and any role that Mr Abramovich will have in determining the identity of whoever inherits ownership of the club after nearly 20 years in his hands.
The Russian-born billionaire had slapped a £3bn price tag on the Stamford Bridge outfit, with the net proceeds being donated to a charitable foundation set up to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine, but that valuation is now seen as unlikely.
Last week, Chelsea sponsors such as Three UK, the mobile telecoms network, and Hyundai, the Korean car-maker, suspended their association with the club, which was banned from opening its retail outlets or selling new match tickets to fans.
The licence restrictions were relaxed by the government this weekend, meaning it can spend additional funds on fulfilling home matches and receive broadcast income and prize money.
Bidders have been given several additional days to table offers, with a new deadline of next Friday.
Sunday's game with Newcastle - now majority-owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund - promises to be one of the most intriguing Premier League fixtures for years, although largely for reasons of geopolitics rather than football.
Raine, the US merchant bank running the auction of Chelsea, notified prospective bidders on Friday that it and Chelsea had "coordinated with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and UK Government Investments [UKGI] and will be moving forward with the sale process".
A rapid sale is seen as essential if Chelsea is to remain solvent and therefore retain the nucleus of a playing squad which has become established as one of Europe's most successful under Mr Abramovich's ownership.
The government has been clear that none of the proceeds from a takeover could flow to Mr Abramovich.
Bidders were also told in the communication from Raine on Friday that the "successful closing of the sale of Chelsea FC will require a special licence to be approved by UKGI, approving both the source and use of funds".