Former tennis world number one Serena Williams and seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton have joined Martin Broughton's bid to buy Premier League club Chelsea. Broughton, former Liverpool chairman, leads a consortium of wealthy investors, who want to maintain Chelsea's top status.
Williams and Hamilton have pledged an estimated USD 13 million each to the bid. The Broughton’s consortium, which includes World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and owners of NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, did not disclose any details related to the bid for Chelsea, the club that won the UEFA Champions’ League last season.
The famous football club was put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich following Russia's invasion of Ukraine before sanctions were imposed on the oligarch by the British government. Final bids, which were submitted earlier this month, include LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca are also among the bidders.
The club's sale is being overseen by US bank Raine Group.
Chelsea operations restricted by sanctions
According to the British government, Chelsea needs to be sold before the start of next season
or the club cannot continue as normal. The team has been granted a licence, which expires on 31 May, to continue operating in the short term despite the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich. At the moment, clubs’ business is severely constrained. Chelsea is unable to take part in economic transactions including ticket sales, TV revenues and paying its players.
The government has ruled out a full bailout which would see public money invested in Chelsea, and are in talks with the club over how it could be sold without the proceeds going to Abramovich. One option for a sale that would avoid breaching sanctions could be for a buyer to pay the cost directly into a charitable trust, with Abramovich simultaneously giving up his ownership rights.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We are in constant contact with the club and the Premier League over any issues that have been raised by the sanctions and the licence that the Treasury has issued them. In terms of process, it is now up to the club to apply for an amended licence. The measures that we have put in place are to ensure that any revenue generated can’t find its way back to the Putin regime.”