Takeover: Abramovich absence feeds rumours of new ownership – media links Sir Jim Ratcliffe to Chelsea

19 March 2019

Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Photo: Getty Images Last year, Sir Jim Ratcliffe invested £110 million in Sir Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, renaming the sailing team after his petrochemicals company with the aim of competing for the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021.

Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of Chelsea FC, has not been to a single match this season - feeding speculation that new ownership might be around the corner.

Several candidates said to be interested in a club takeover – among them Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Times writes.

Peter Høyer ph@offthepitch.com

Rumours are rife on whether Chelsea FC will soon have a new owner. Speculation took off after current owner Roman Abramovich withdrew his plans to restructure Stamford Bridge for £1 billion. On top of this, the 52-year-old Russian has not been to a single Chelsea match this season. 

The London club are currently beset with problems, with Chelsea having trouble seeing how manager Maurizio Sarri can get the best out of the players, Eden Hazard wanting to leave this summer when he will have only 12 months left on his contract, and FIFA’s imposition of a transfer ban for the next two windows.

Even so, The Times writes that Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe should be interessed in a takeover, according to the paper. 

The news came after several possible candidates have been linked with the club the last year. In the autumn it was Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and former owner of NFL, NBA and football teams and Petr Kellner, the Czech billionaire.

Reports: Ratcliffe interested

Ratcliffe, 66, is set to become an increasingly influential figure in British sport with the confirmation that Team Sky will become Team Ineos.
According to The Times, the petrochemicals billionaire has been exploring whether to purchase Chelsea from Abramovich but has balked at an asking price of at least £2.5 billion. 

Even though money is no issue for Ratcliffe, who is apparently worth £21 billion, the need for a new stadium - and the huge cost of construction if Chelsea are to increase their revenue - is a reason why Ratcliffe will not pay £2.5 billion for the Premier League club.

Last year, he invested £110 million in Sir Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, renaming the sailing team after his petrochemicals company with the aim of competing for the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021. In 2017, he bought FC Lausanne-Sport, who play in Switzerland’s top football league. And with the investment in Team Sky, it seems likely that Ratcliffe is interested in a British football club. 

Forbes magazine valued Chelsea at £1.44 billion last year

According to The Times, sources with knowledge of Ratcliffe’s bid claim that the engineering tycoon is unwilling to pay £2 billion for the club, a figure those close to Abramovich have always regarded as the starting point for any serious negotiation. 

Forbes magazine valued Chelsea at £1.44 billion last year, with KPMG putting it at £1.26 billion, while Abramovich would certainly want to see a return on the £1.17 billion in loans he has provided to the club since buying it for £140 million in 2003.

Chelsea FC has officially said that the club is not for sale.