Chelsea Sale: Steve Pagliuca approaches former Disney chief Bob Iger to back bid | Football News Sky News

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The private equity billionaire, who owns the Boston Celtics basketball team, approached a number of wealthy businessmen, including former Walt Disney chief Bob Iger, to back his bid to buy Chelsea.

Sky News has learned that Steve Pagliuca is in talks with a number of potential co-investors ahead of the deadline for bidding for the Premier League club next Monday.

Mr Iger, who stepped down as Disney’s chairman of the board in December, is among those being investigated by Mr Pagliuca since he was one of four shortlisted bidders to buy Chelsea, sources said.

Mr Iger’s level of financial commitment was unclear on Tuesday and a source said the club may have decided not to participate in the Stamford Bridge auction.

But if he supports Mr Pagliuca, he will add one of the biggest names in the US entertainment industry to the list of potential investors for last season’s Champions League winners.

The quartet of remaining bidders are holding meetings in London this week with Chelsea board members, staff and club advisers at Raine Group.

Picture:
Former Walt Disney chief Bob Iger

The next few days on the pitch will be decisive for the outcome of the Blues season, with the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals being played against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Just a week before the deadline, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust issued a statement saying they had not yet been contacted by Mr Pagliuca.

Earlier this week, the Ricketts family-led consortium, which includes Chicago Cubs owner Dan Gilbert and hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Ken Griffin, including a pledge to Blues fans never to participate in a resurgent European Super League. made a number of commitments. League. project.

Other bidders have reportedly submitted details of their commitments to CSE but have so far chosen not to make them public.

While Mr Pagliuca’s spokesperson did not respond to emailed requests for comment, Disney said he could not contact Mr Iger.

A Disney veteran of almost 50 years, Mr. Iger resigned after overseeing acquisitions of Marvel Studios and Pixar during his tenure.

His fortune is estimated at around $800 million in 2020 by Forbes magazine, meaning he’ll be a shareholder in any bid for Chelsea if he’s involved.

Mr. Iger is not the only former Disney chief linked to the takeover of an English football club. His predecessor, Michael Eisner, bought Portsmouth FC in 2017 for a price well below Chelsea’s price this month when a preferred offer was made to the government.

The Ricketts-led bid for Chelsea has faced challenges in recent weeks amid backlash over historic comments by a family member who was not involved in the bid.

An anti-Ricketts protest ahead of Saturday’s match against Brentford in Chelsea’s 4-1 win by the visitors drew around 100 fans, according to reports.

After speaking with supporters’ groups last month, Cubs president Tom Ricketts said the bidding team “listened to all of your feedback, including from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, and is grateful that the door is still there with a commitment to working with fans to preserve the club’s legacy.”

“It is now up to us to redouble our efforts and define a clear vision for our club management, with diversity and inclusion at its heart. »

Proponents of their proposal pointed to the family’s successful ownership of the Cubs, winning the World Series for the first time in a century, and completing the $1 billion renovation of Wrigley Field, home of one of the most historic sports fields in the United States. . .

People close to the consortium confirmed that Chelsea would be an all-equity offer, with no new debt on its balance sheet.

The remaining bidders for Chelsea are a consortium led by former Liverpool FC chairman Sir Martin Broughton, whose bid was partially funded by Crystal Palace shareholders Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer; and an offer from Todd Boehly, co-owner of LA Dodgers, working with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.

Sky News revealed last week that the fan-run group co-founded by former Chelsea captain John Terry is in “positive” talks with the two shortlisted bidders about buying a 10% stake.

Raine aims to present a preferential offer to the government by the week of April 18 and pave the way for a sale before the end of the month.

Among them, the latest bidders also control or own stakes in American teams, including the Boston Celtics, Cubs, LA Dodgers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Sacramento Kings.

By the standards of traditional takeover processes, Chelsea’s auction progressed at a dizzying pace, with executives at other major investment banks suggesting that such a complex sale would typically take at least six months.

The sanction of Mr Abramovich by the British government added further complications to the deal as bidders asked for clarification on the legal implications of buying the club.

Abramovich said he plans to cancel the £1.5bn loan he made to the club before the sanction was imposed and donate the net proceeds from the sale to a new charity he will create to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine.

A quick sale is seen as essential if Chelsea want to avoid the uncertainty that could trigger the dissolution of one of the elite’s most valuable players.

The current winners of the FIFA Club World Cup, upset by Russia’s war with Ukraine, Mr. Abramovich first offered to transfer the club to his foundation, and then officially put it up for sale.

Mr. Abramovich had initially put a £3 billion price tag on the Stamford Bridge team, with the net proceeds going to a charity set up to benefit war victims in Ukraine.

Chelsea’s new owners will need to obtain approval from the Premier League as part of the ownership test, as well as government approval in the form of a special license.