The owners of the Chicago Cubs have ended their interest in buying Chelsea after opting not to submit a final offer before the Thursday deadline.
A consortium led by the Ricketts family investment group was one of four bidders advanced to the last stage by New York-based merchant bank Raine Group, along with a consortium headed by Los Angeles Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly, another led by British businessman Sir Martin Broughton and a third headed by Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
However, a statement released to ESPN on Friday confirmed the Ricketts group decided not to proceed.
“The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert Group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea F.C,” the group said in a statement.
“In the process of finalising their proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process. We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans, and we wish the new owners well.”
The Ricketts family have faced fan opposition to their bid after emails resurfaced from the patriarch, Joe, in which he described Islam as a “cult” and declared that “Muslims are my enemy.”
However, a source close to the bid has insisted the Ricketts group decision is not a consequence of fan outrage, as the family believe they had made genuine progress on that contentious topic following productive meetings with key stakeholders.
The source instead suggested talks broke down over the terms of the final proposal.
Raine Group are expected to identify a preferred bidder at the start of next week. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will then give final sign-off on the takeover, formally ending Roman Abramovich’s 19-year tenure.