The battle buy Chelsea reached its second stage on Thursday – and the Saudi Media Group bid was absent from those heading to the next phase of the contest.
The firm, supposedly with no links to the Mohammed bin Salman regime despite his friendship with boss Mohamed Alkhereiji, have reportedly been told that they are out of the running.
Their demand to perform full due diligence on the club’s accounts – and therefore an unwillingness to process a quick sale – is thought to be the main reason why, rather than a moral standpoint.
There is still some uncertainty as to the identities of the bids that have been put through to the next round, although Sky Sports have reported that Woody Johnson – the owner of NFL outfit New York Jets – has been told that his offer has not been successful.
The Aethel Partners bid has also apparently been turned down, while leaked emails from the Ricketts family – which suggest patriarch Joe holds Islamophobic views, something he has since denied – is thought to have ended their hopes of acquiring the Blues.
The Sun, meanwhile, has reported that just two potential buyers remain on the shortlist. They claim that the consortium featuring Lord Coe, Sir Martin Broughton and Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer is very much still in the running, and that they could be pitched in a head-to-head conflict against the American duo Todd Boehly and Hansjorg Wyss.
The Raine Group, who are leading the sale process, are picking up the pace after it was revealed that Chelsea needs to be sold before the end of March – despite the government approving a £30 million rescue package from Roman Abramovich’s holding company.
On the Road Again
As part of an update to their licensing agreement, Chelsea supporters will once again be allowed to buy tickets to the club’s away matches.
The UK government has confirmed that the Blues won’t receive any revenue from the sale of the tickets, while away fans are now also permitted to travel to Stamford Bridge – with all money made donated to victims of the conflict in Ukraine.
The decision to amend the rules currently controlling the club was confirmed by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, and supported by government officials. The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, revealed that the decision was taken so that fans of Chelsea and their rivals would not be punished amid the sanctioning of their former owner.
“Since Roman Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list for his links to Vladimir Putin, we have worked extensively to ensure the club can continue to play football – while ensuring the sanctions regime continues to be enforced,” Huddleston said.
“I would like to thank fans for their patience while we have engaged with the football authorities to make this possible.”
The amended licence contains eight clauses, which include the original limitations regarding a ban on selling merchandise while ensuring staff are paid in full. Chelsea are also allowed to pay ‘reasonable’ costs to transport their players, coaches and medical staff to away fixtures, and maintain the payment of pre-existing debt agreements.