By Nick Purewal, PA
Chelsea’s sale remains a level playing field for all four bidding consortiums.
The sheer volume of work required to assess the rival bids leaves no one offer currently ahead of any other, the PA news agency understands.
New York merchant bank the Raine Group continues to oversee the sale process, with the four shortlisted bidders able to make improved offers up until April 11th.
Raine should have a preferred bidder by April 18th with that eventual front-runner then to be put to the UK government for Downing Street approval.
LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and British business leader Jonathan Goldstein, Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe, the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are the four remaining contenders.
All four bidders are fine-tuning their submissions, and could yet raise the value of their offers for the Blues.
The prospective new owners will all have the opportunity to meet with Stamford Bridge executives, and even manager Thomas Tuchel, before making their final submissions to Raine.
Representatives from the four bids will be looking to hold those meetings next week, it is understood.
Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2nd, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
The 55-year-old was then sanctioned by the UK government on March 10th, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Russia President Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.
Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already vowed to write off the club’s £1.5 billion (€1.7 billion) debt.
The government must grant another new licence to approve Chelsea’s sale, once Raine provides the preferred bidder.
The heads of consortiums bidding for Chelsea were always able to meet with leading figures at and around Stamford Bridge.
And that led to Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts meeting Paul Canoville last week, with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck in attendance.
Ricketts sought to meet Canoville, so he could speak to Chelsea’s first black player about his family’s determination for diversity and inclusivity.
Canoville had joined the ‘No To Ricketts’ social media campaign amid Chelsea fans online harbouring concerns over the Cubs owners’ candidacy.
Tom Ricketts addressed his father Joe Ricketts’ Islamophobic comments from leaked emails in 2019 where he branded Muslims “my enemy”.
Canoville was said to have been impressed by Tom Ricketts’ apology for his father’s email views, labelling the comments “abhorrent”.
Former Chelsea winger Canoville has vowed not to endorse any of the bids to buy the Blues however, and wants to meet with members of each consortium.
The anti-racism campaigner wants to grill all the candidates on their vision for the Premier League club’s future, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
The Raine Group are understood to have had no issues with that meeting, and all bidders have been able to set up similar opportunities.
The consortiums’ plans to redevelop the Stamford Bridge stadium remain crucial to the process of selecting the preferred bidder.
Abramovich wants Chelsea’s future secured by the new owner, and a revamp of the club’s ground will be central to keeping the world and European club champions at the top of the global game.
The Boehly/Goldstein bid and the Ricketts family have had a head-start on their rivals in that area, having both tabled official offers to buy Chelsea in the past.
Boehly came close to buying the Blues in 2019, while the Ricketts family pushed hard with a bid in 2018.
The due diligence from those submissions have helped both gain insight on Chelsea’s own previous plans for Stamford Bridge redevelopment.