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 disclose the full list of investors backing the takeover bid for chelsea led by Sir Martin Broughton, former chairman of Liverpool FC and British Airways, of which the most prominent are the seven-time Formula One world champion and the former number one in women’s world tennis.
Both Sir Lewis, who will race his Mercedes team at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this weekend, and Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slams including seven Wimbledon titles, have become established investors in their own right in the last years.
Serena Ventures, the tennis star’s venture capital fund, this week announced an investment in Opensponsorship, a British-based sports technology startup, while Sir Lewis has backed a variety of early-stage companies such as Zapp. , the London-based fast food store. delivery app
His involvement in the Chelsea auction is unexpected, especially as Sir Lewis is an Arsenal fan.
Sir Lewis and Mrs Williams, however, have been in talks with the group headed by Sir Martin for several weeks.
It was unclear Thursday morning which corporate entities the couple would use to invest in the Blues.
The consortium is exclusively run by British among the trio of shortlisted bidders and counts another UK sporting icon in the form of Lord Coe among its sponsors.
A source close to the group said the addition of Sir Lewis and Ms Williams was a serious investment decision given their experience building global sports brands.
They also noted that the pair’s involvement was not the first time famous athletes had endorsed a Premier League club: LeBron James, the basketball legend, has been a small shareholder in Liverpool for more than a decade.
Under the consortium’s plans, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), the holding company headed by US private equity billionaires Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, would have a majority stake in Chelsea, although they must first divest themselves of their minority stake in Crystal Palace. to complete a deal.
His involvement in owning and managing Crystal Palace since 2015 is also a distinguishing factor among other Chelsea bidders.
The other investors in the Broughton-led group include: the Rogers family of Canada, which has a major interest in telecommunications and media company Rogers Communications; John Arnold, who chaired the bid committee for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Houston; and the Tsai family from Taiwan, which owns the Taipei Fubon Braves and Fubon Guardians baseball teams.
What Sky News reported MondayAlejandro Santo Domingo, heir to one of the largest beer fortunes in the world and an investor in several North American sports franchises, is also betting on the offer.
Sources close to the Sir Martin-led bid said the diversity of its list of global investors was one of the factors that persuaded Sir Lewis and Williams to get involved.
One source suggested that Sir Lewis is likely to play a formal role in Chelsea’s future efforts to promote diversity, fairness and inclusion if the bid is successful.
He and Ms. Williams have been advocates in their respective sports and beyond in promoting equality, lending their names to numerous anti-discrimination initiatives.
That problem was highlighted earlier in the Chelsea sale process when one of the bidders, a consortium led by the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, was forced to distance itself from historic Islamophobic comments.
Sir Martin’s consortium is said to believe it is best placed of the remaining consortiums to navigate the complexities of owning Chelsea, including the possible redevelopment of its Stamford Bridge home.
The other Chelsea bidders, including the one led by billionaires Steve Pagliuca and Larry Tanenbaumthey also have significant real estate experience, however, they put up a very close fight to succeed roman abramovich as owner of Chelsea after almost two decades.
The third remaining bidder is fronted by Todd Boehlyco-owner of the LA Dodgers, but would see US investor Clearlake Capital as its largest single shareholder.
HBSE’s extensive holdings in major teams allied to sports science and technology asset investments aimed at fostering fan engagement have made it one of the most prolific owners of sports assets in the US .
It also has a large real estate operation, which is likely to position it well in the battle for a Premier League club whose stadium is significantly smaller than its rivals.
The group’s founders have invested in more than half a dozen soccer clubs, including US MLS competition Real Salt Lake.
She also owns the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and the New Jersey Devils ice hockey team.
The consortium is also understood to plan to retain Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia in senior roles at the club, according to a source.
Under his plans, he would make an immediate, though undisclosed, investment in Chelsea’s squad, playing facilities, women’s set-up and academy.
The final three bidders have been told to provide legal commitments that they will guarantee at least £1bn of investment in the club’s infrastructure, its academy and women’s team if they buy it.
The 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 passed scrutiny as part of the Premier League’s owners and directors test.
Sir Martin’s bid is being advised by Michael Klein, an investment banker who worked with him when he 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 financing and advisory association.
The deadline for the final bids for Chelsea came a week ago, though in the days since, prominent names have continued to emerge in connection with him.
Sky News revealed over the weekend that George Osborne, the former chancellor, has parachuted in to help Boehly’s bid as the Chelsea auction, arguably the most politically charged sports deal in British history, enters its final stages. .
Abramovich’s sanction by the government and disqualification by the Premier League as director of the club he has owned since 2003 has left the fate of the Stamford Bridge team in the hands of ministers.
Raine will be responsible for recommending a preferred bidder to the government for a special license approving the sale.
The True Blues Consortium, a group of Chelsea supporters that counts former Blues captain John Terry among its founders, has backed Pagliuca’s bid.
More than 10,000 Chelsea fans have expressed an interest in owning shares worth more than £150m as part of the deal that will replace Abramovich as owner of the club.
The final offers were expected to value Chelsea at more than £2.5bn, which would break the record for a sports club takeover.
If selected in time, a preferred bidder will have an FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool, although a lackluster season in the Premier League and elimination from the Champions League last week have raised the prospect of an unremarkable campaign. trophies at Stamford Bridge.
The sale process has been complicated by the sanctions against Abramovich, but it has not inhibited the interest of a multitude of billionaires who control or own stakes in a legion of North American baseball, basketball and ice hockey teams.
The pool of bidders underscores the extent to which the English Premier League has become a magnet for financiers from across the Atlantic over the past 20 years.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been acquired by US-based businessmen during that period, and a significant number of other top-tier clubs also have US backing.
Last season’s Champions League winners were thrown into disarray by Russia’s war with Ukraine, and Abramovich initially proposed putting the club in the care of his foundation and then formally putting it up for sale.
initially slapped a £3bn price tag on the Stamford Bridge outfitand the net proceeds will be donated to a charitable foundation established to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Spokesmen for Sir Martin’s consortium and HBSE declined to comment on Thursday.