Tennis legend Serena Williams and Formula 1 phenom Lewis Hamilton have agreed to join Sir Martin Broughton’s consortium in the race to purchase Chelsea, a source told Reuters on Thursday.
The club was put up for sale by former owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich before he was sanctioned by the English government as a response to the invasion of Ukraine; a brief deadlock ended with the government allowing the sale of the club, which caused a plethora of early bids to roll in.
Williams and Hamilton were required to invest millions of pounds to join the group, which Broughton now believes offers the greatest cash injection of all the bidders.
Chelsea’s new ownership battle
Professional sports organizations like Chelsea do not go up on the market every day; the Blues are the reigning Champions of Europe, following their successful Champions League campaign, as well as the world after winning the Club World Cup. They currently sit third in the English Premier League table and are likely to finish there, barring unforeseen results.
Broughton, a former Liverpool chairman, has partnered with World Athletics chairman, former Olympian and multi-time world record holder Sebastian Coe, as well as other wealthy investors around the world. This list includes Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own the Philadelphia 76ers, among other professional teams.
Williams and Hamilton have pledged a reported £10m ($13.06m); Williams is already invested in newly-formed National Women’s Soccer League outfit Angels City FC. Hamilton would be granted the opportunity to head challenges in racism and diversity if the bid is successful.
Final bids were submitted earlier this month.
Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is also leading a group of investors attempting to take over Chelsea, as well as Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
A consortium led by the Ricketts family, who also own the Chicago Cubs, pulled out of the running following widespread opposition from club supporters and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust. This came as a response to alleged racist ideologies held by the Ricketts, specifically against Muslims. A chunk of Chelsea’s most influential players, including N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Hakim Ziyech all worship Islam.
The club’s sale is being overseen by U.S. bank Raine Group. There is no expected date for a formal announcement.
Chelsea will be back on television this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET when they take on West Ham United at their home Stamford Bridge.