Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams, two of the world’s biggest sports stars, are pledging millions of pounds in one of the bids vying to become the new owners of Chelsea Football Club.
Sky News can exclusively reveal the full list of investors backing the takeover bid for chelsea led by Sir Martin Broughton, the former chairman of Liverpool FC and British Airways – most prominent of whom are the seven-time Formula 1 world champion and former women’s tennis world number one.
Sources close to the group said that Mr Lewis and Mrs Williams – the most prominent members of one of the three remaining consortia – had pledged around £10m each to the bid.
Sir Lewis, who will compete for his Mercedes team at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this weekend, and Ms Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slams including seven Wimbledon titles, have become established investors in their own right these last years.
Serena Ventures, the tennis star’s venture capital fund, this week announced an investment in Opensponsorship, a British sports tech start-up, while Sir Lewis has backed a range of start-ups such as Zapp, the London-based quick grocery store. delivery app.
Their involvement in the Chelsea auction is unexpected, not least because Sir Lewis is an Arsenal fan.
Sir Lewis and Mrs Williams have however been in talks with the group led by Sir Martin for several weeks.
It was unclear Thursday morning which corporate entities the pair would use to invest in the Blues.
The consortium is solely led by the British among the trio of shortlisted bidders and features another British sporting icon in the form of Lord Coe among its backers.
A source close to the group said the addition of Sir Lewis and Ms Williams was a serious investment decision because of their experience building global sports brands.
They also pointed out that the pair’s involvement was not the first time that famous athletes had supported a Premier League club: Basketball legend LeBron James has been a small shareholder in Liverpool for more than a year. decade.
Under the consortium’s plans, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), the holding company run by US private equity billionaires Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, would own a majority stake in Chelsea – although they will have to divest their minority stake in Crystal Palace forward to close a deal.
Their involvement in the ownership and management of Crystal Palace since 2015 is also a distinguishing factor among the remaining bidders for Chelsea.
Other investors in the group led by Broughton include: the Canadian Rogers family, which has a large stake in the media and telecommunications company Rogers Communications; John Arnold, who chaired the bid committee for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Houston; and the Tsai family of Taiwan, owners of the Taipei Fubon Braves and Fubon Guardians baseball teams.
Like Sky News reported on MondayAlejandro Santo Domingo, heir to one of the world’s greatest brewing fortunes and an investor in several North American sports franchises, is also investing in the offering.
Sources close to the Sir Martin-led bid said the diversity of its list of global investors was among the factors that persuaded Sir Lewis and Ms Williams to get involved.
An insider has suggested Sir Lewis is likely to play an official role in Chelsea’s future efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion if the bid is successful.
He and Ms Williams have been advocates in their respective sports and beyond promoting equality, lending their names to numerous anti-discrimination initiatives.
This issue was highlighted earlier in Chelsea’s sale process when one of the bidders – a consortium led by the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs – was forced to distance itself from historic Islamophobic remarks.
Sir Martin’s consortium are said to believe they are best placed of the remaining consortiums to navigate the complexities of owning Chelsea, including the potential redevelopment of their Stamford Bridge home.
The other bidders for Chelsea, including the one led by billionaires Steve Pagliuca and Larry Tanenbaumalso have significant real estate expertise, however putting up a tight fight to succeed Roman Abramovich as Chelsea owner after nearly two decades.
The third remaining bidder is directed by Todd Boehlyco-owner of the LA Dodgers, but which would see the American investor Clearlake Capital be by far its largest individual shareholder.
HBSE’s extensive holdings in major teams combined with investments in sports science and technology assets aimed at building fan engagement have made it one of the most prolific owners of sports assets in the States. -United.
It also has a major property operation, which should position it well in the battle for a Premier League club whose stadium is significantly smaller than its rivals.
The founders of the group have invested in more than half a dozen football clubs, including Real Salt Lake of the American competition MLS.
It also owns the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and the New Jersey Devils ice hockey team.
The consortium also plans to retain Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and manager Marina Granovskaia in senior positions at the club, according to an insider.
According to his plans, he would make an immediate – albeit undisclosed – investment in the Chelsea squad, playing facilities, women’s setup and academy.
The last three bidders have been asked to legally commit to guaranteeing at least £1billion of investment in the club’s infrastructure, academy and women’s team if they buy it.
Raine Group, which is overseeing the sale process, is expected to select a preferred bidder by the end of the month once all parties have been vetted through the Premier League owners and directors test.
Sir Martin’s offer is being advised by Michael Klein, an investment banker who worked with him when he was parachuted in as chairman of Liverpool FC in 2010.
It is supported by Creative Artists Agency, the global talent management agency, and Evolution Media Capital, a sports advisory and finance partnership.
The final bid deadline for Chelsea came a week ago, although big names continued to emerge about him in the following days.
Sky News revealed over the weekend that George Osborne, the former chancellor, had been parachuted in to help Mr Boehly’s bid as the Chelsea auction – arguably the most politically charged sporting deal in history British history – is entering its final phase.
Mr Abramovich’s sanction by the government and his disqualification by the Premier League as manager of the club he has owned since 2003 has left the fate of the Stamford Bridge side in the hands of ministers.
Raine will be responsible for recommending a preferred bidder to the government in order to obtain a special license approving the sale.
The True Blues Consortium – a group of Chelsea supporters who count former Blues captain John Terry among their founders – have backed Mr Pagliuca’s candidacy.
More than 10,000 Chelsea fans have expressed an interest in owning shares worth over £150m as part of the deal which will see Mr Abramovich replaced as owner of the club.
The final offers were expected to value Chelsea at more than £2.5billion, which would break the record takeover for a sports club.
If selected in time, a preferred bidder will have an FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool to look forward to, although an at times lackluster season in the Premier League and last week’s Champions League elimination have raised concerns. the prospect of a trophyless campaign at Stamford Bridge.
The sale process was complicated by the sanctions against Mr. Abramovich, but did not inhibit interest from a host of billionaires who control or own stakes in a legion of North American teams spanning baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
The group of bidders point to how much the English Premier League has become a magnet for investors from across the Atlantic over the past 20 years.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were all acquired by US-based businessmen during this period, and a significant number of other top clubs also benefit from US backing.
Last season’s Champions League winners were upset by Russia’s war with Ukraine, with Mr Abramovich initially offering to hand the club over to his foundation and then officially put it up for sale.
He has first slapped a £3billion price tag on the Stamford Bridge outfitthe net proceeds being donated to a charitable foundation created to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Spokespersons for Sir Martin’s consortium and HBSE declined to comment on Thursday.