British Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe Offers $5.3 Billion for Chelsea FC

Jim Ratcliffe, a billionaire industrialist and one of England’s richest men, has made a $5.3 billion offer to buy Premier League football team Chelsea.

“We’re making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not as a tool to make a profit,” Ratcliffe said in a statement released by petrochemical business Ineos, confirming Chelsea’s pursuit. “We do this with our core business areas. The club relies on its community and its fans. And that’s why we intend to invest in Chelsea FC.”

Ratcliffe’s colossal bid for the West London club – which eclipses the at least three billion dollar bid currently under review – marks a tumultuous and dizzying few weeks for Chelsea. Owner Roman Abramovich was forced to sell the team when he faced crippling sanctions for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

Under Abramovic, Chelsea has grown into one of the biggest and most successful teams in global football. This means the team has been losing nearly $1 million a week since Abramovich, a then-unknown Russian businessman, took control of the London team in 2003, and that has come at a huge cost.

Ratcliffe suggested that the three bidders evaluated by the New York-based merchant bank Chelsea commissioned to undertake the sale would almost certainly be willing to do the same, with an offer out of reach. Ratcliffe’s arrival upset this process, but it could probably make the sale go faster than it actually is.

Any sale will require approval from both the British government and the Premier League.

Saying that he has been a fan of Chelsea’s Premier League rival Manchester United since his school days, Ratcliffe is worth $10.6 billion according to the world’s richest index compiled by Bloomberg. Chelsea would not be Ratcliffe’s first foray into sports investment, or even football. He is the owner of the French professional football club OGC Nice, located near his home in Monaco, as well as FC Lausanne-Sport, a team in Switzerland. But buying Chelsea would be on a whole different scale. He promised to protect the team’s place among the elite teams of the world.

“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the state of the city,” Ratcliffe said. “It is a competition held in the same way as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We want Chelsea to be that club.”

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