Chicago Cubs owners Ricketts Family are flying to London to meet key stakeholders of Chelsea as they wait to discover if they are on the shortlist of preferred bidders for the club.
The race to buy Chelsea is hotting up with the Raine Group meeting now to create a shortlist of the best-placed groups to take control of the club, with an announcement expected imminently and ownership of the Premier League club to change hands within a month.
Sky Sports reports that the purpose of the Ricketts’ trip is to meet key stakeholders of the club, including the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and the Chelsea Pitch Owners.
However, the family have faced backlash from the head of the Chelsea Chicago Supporters Club, Brian Wolff, who posted a letter to Twitter on Monday opposing the Ricketts’ potential takeover of Chelsea.
He wrote, “As the head of Chelsea Chicago Supporters Club, and the Chelsea Fans’ Forum Overseas Representative, I’ve had a unique position hearing what supporters in Chicago and worldwide have said regarding the Ricketts family’s bid for Chelsea. I can report the vast majority of opinion has been universal disdain.
“The Ricketts’ political donations, fundraising and support for candidates who do not share the inclusive views of Chelsea Football Club and its supporters are wholly inconsistent with the 19 years of fantastic work done by the Club and the Chelsea Foundation, most notably as a leader in committing to a Living Wage and efforts to protect and promote equality for BAME and LGBTQ+ communities.
“Their ownership of the Chicago Cubs baseball and redevelopment of Wrigley Field raises serious doubts whether they will build upon the Club’s success on the pitch, and also the continued existence of the Chelsea Pitch Owners and the goal to keep Chelsea Football Club playing at Stamford Bridge as our forever home.
“On behalf of countless supporters worldwide, I urge you to reject their bid for ownership of Chelsea Football Club in favour of others who will commit to not only building upon the last two decades of investment in players and infrastructure but equally important – the investment in supporters and the values which we hold dear.
“If not, I fear many Chelsea supporters WILL ‘be booing in a year’.”
The last line refers to an incident in January 2020 when Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was booed by fans as he unveiled a new network dedicated to the baseball club over what was seen as a lack of activity during the offseason.
Meanwhile, Tom Ricketts also had a telephone conversation with Conservative MP for Chelsea Greg Hands on Monday before heading over to the UK.
The Ricketts family are one of several interested parties from America in the Chelsea bidding process. The Chicago Cubs owners are backed by billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who is the most valuable individual associated with Chelsea bidding process.
The family are joined in the race by a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, with that group representing another American powerhouse in the race.
“The Ricketts family are facing backlash from some Chelsea supporters over leaked Islamophobic emails sent by the 80-year-old patriarch of the family Joe Ricketts between 2009 and 2013.
“Joe Ricketts has apologised for the emails which were published by the website Splinter News in 2019. He is not part of the bid for Chelsea and he is not involved with the Chicago Cubs.
“The Ricketts family bid for Chelsea is being led by his son Tom Ricketts. Two of his other children Laura and Todd are also involved.
“Todd Ricketts is the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is a Republican Party donor and was nominated by Donald Trump to be the US Deputy Secretary of Commerce in November 2016.
“Laura Ricketts is a former corporate lawyer and Democratic Party donor who has campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights.
“Chelsea have several Muslim players such as N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger, Hakim Ziyech and Malang Sarr and millions of Muslim supporters around the world.”