Sixers and Devils owner Joshua Harris makes move for Chelsea as bid deadline passes for Premier League giant

The deadline for bids to secure Chelsea passed on Friday with Joshua Harris the latest American to enter the chase for the Premier League giants.

Sources have confirmed to CBS Sports that the co-founder of investment management firm Apollo Global Management will be among the parties to have submitted a bid for Chelsea, who are up for sale after current owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the British government for his links with Vladimir Putin. New York bank Raine Capital are handling the sale; at 5 pm ET on Friday the final bids were due to be submitted. Philadelphia 76ers owner Harris was among them. He has close ties with Raine through his work in US sports franchises.

CBS sources have indicated that Harris and his investment partner David Blitzer have formed a partnership with Martin Broughton, former chairman of British Airways, and Sebastian Coe, a former Conservative MP, close ally of Boris Johnson and a driving force in London’s successful 2012 Olympics. Those individuals offer the American duo links into the British government, who will hold a de facto veto over the sale due to the special license under which Chelsea are operating.

Harris, who owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and is a managing partner at the Sixers, already has a stake in a Premier League club. Along with Blitzer, he bought an 18 percent stake in Crystal Palace in December 2015. Were his offer for Chelsea to be successful, then he would be obliged to divest himself of his part ownership of the south London club.

It was first suggested that Harris, who has a fortune of $5.8 billion according to Forbes, would consider selling his Palace stake in 2019. Another US billionaire, John Textor, joined the ownership group at Selhurst Park last year. He is not a part of the group bidding for Chelsea. Harris’ involvement with Palace is not expected to be a significant complicating factor if his consortium were successful.

“A deal for Harris and Blitzer’s stake could be in place in 30 seconds,” said a source close to Palace.

Broughton said of the consortium, for which he is serving as the figurehead: “I am assembling a team that will ensure the future success and financial stability of a club I’ve supported for more than 60 years. We will secure a prompt purchase and smooth transition, with funds readily available for the immediate takeover of the club and immediate investment in the team, facilities, and commercial opportunities.

“I believe I am the right person to lead Chelsea Football Club as we start this new chapter for the club. I have a track record of success in boardrooms throughout my career and I have done this before. I remain the only person to have effected a change of ownership at a major football club in a similar situation, which I did at Liverpool 12 years ago.

“But most importantly, as a lifelong fan, I am committed to ensuring Chelsea maintains its pre-eminent position at the top of European football and making sure we put fans first.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Broughton added that his group would offer fans discounts in investing in the club and said supporters would have “veto” right over club issues, though what those were was unspecified.

The leading contenders to secure Chelsea are said to be the group led by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly and Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss, who have also secured the backing of Conservative peer Daniel Finkelstein and celebrity PR guru Barbara Charone. Both of the latter two are Chelsea fans and would be non-executive directors if appointed.

British property tycoon Nick Candy has partnered with Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group for his bid, forming the Blue Football Consortium. “I can confirm that the two South Korean firms Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Group are a significant part of Mr Candy’s global consortium of investors,” a spokesperson said. “Their involvement is representative of Chelsea’s global brand and huge loyal fan base in Asia.”

The Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, have teamed up with Ken Griffin of Citadel in their bid with widespread American interest in securing Chelsea. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is also reportedly keen on the Blues. The Saudi Media Group are also interested in the club.

Leave a Comment