These biblical losses must have been apocryphal, as the Ricketts family seem to be considering quite a big financial move. And no, I’m not talking about the new sports betting site that is about to be built on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. According to Sky News’ Mark Kleinman, the owners of the Cubs are among interested suitors for Chelsea Football Club.
Kleinman reported on Saturday that the Ricketts “should talk to potential financial partners about a proposal” to buy the club from billionaire Roman Abramovich. Other interested parties include property mogul Nick Candy and star MMA baron Conor McGregor, who has publicly announced his interest in the west London team.
This appears to be a screenshot of a text thread in which McGregor states that Chelsea’s asking price is £3 billion, or around $3.96 billion based on current exchange rates. Not too cheap, huh? In fact, it’s about $600 million more than the Cubs were worth in the latest Forbes assessment. It seems like a lot for a person to swing, even someone who knows how to throw a punch.
While there’s probably no connection to their mutual interest in Chelsea, it’s slightly interesting that the Cubs hosted McGregor at Wrigley Field last season. He threw a ceremonial first pitch, sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame and sold his new cryotherapy spray during a live interview. There is, however, another connection to the Cubs in this deal that might be far more noteworthy.
The sale of Chelsea is overseen by The Raine Group, “a global investment bank focused exclusively on technology, media and telecommunications”. If that name tickles something in your hippocampus, it’s probably because Raine linked up with Cubs ownership end of 2020 to create a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Marquee Raine Acquisition Corp.
And what is the subject of this after-sales service? To pursue “transactions in the world of sport, including betting opportunities”. The Cubs are going to need a lot more than the $325 million that Marquee Raine was initially looking to raise, although the existing relationship between the two parties certainly looks like a lot more than just a coincidence. Who knows, maybe it’s just a matter of interest to the Ricketts family because of the tie.
Interest is something they have a lot of besides thanks to the debt they racked up from their purchase of the Cubs and all those developments around Wrigley. Then there’s the nearly half a billion dollar renovation that Tom Ricketts says was funded mostly by minority investors, so maybe there’s some cash lying around after all. . Probably not enough to buy a football club.
What we can say with certainty is that even with showing a passing interest in Chelsea, it’s much harder to swallow lines about Major League Baseball being tough on owners.