The president of the National Basketball Association has joined one of the leagues preparing to submit final takeover bids to Chelsea this week.
Sky News has learned that Larry Tannenbaum, who also owns a handful of North American sports teams, is among the investors backing Stephen Pagliuca’s bid for Stamford Bridge.
City sources said Monday that Tannenbaum, a Canadian, was among several wealthy individuals who agreed to back Pagliuca, a private equity billionaire who has made a fortune from his career at Bain Capital.
Other co-investors of the group include John Burbank, founder of the San Francisco hedge fund Passport Capital, and Eduardo Saverin, a Facebook co-founder who was the tech giant’s first investor.
It is understood that Saverin and Raj Ganguly, co-founders of investment firm B Capital Group, have agreed to support Mr. Pagliuca.
Last week, Sky News revealed that Bob Iger, the former president of The Walt Disney Company, had been contacted about joining the show.
The Bain Capital chief reportedly attended Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Southampton on Saturday, having traveled to the UK to hold talks with club executives and advisors about his bid.
Pagliuca co-owns the NBA team Boston Celtics, as well as a large stake in Italian side Atalanta, which he may have to get rid of if he succeeds in Chelsea’s bid.
One of the sources close to Mr Pagliuca’s bid said Tannenbaum’s work in combating anti-Semitism was likely to draw plaudits from Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea FC hit by British government sanctions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The remaining four associations planning to replace Abramovich as Chelsea owner must submit their final performances on Thursday, two days after the crucial second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid. Chelsea trails 3-1 after the first leg last week.
The Raine Group, the commercial bank overseeing the sale, extended the deadline last week in order to give the four bidders a full and fair opportunity to finalize the details of their bids.
Ryan is considering waiting for approval from the Premier League for all four associations before making the government’s preferred bid.
The scrutiny of the four bids by English football’s top flight has already begun after the remaining associations submitted details of their major investors to Rennes ten days ago.
The Premier League is expected to take the remainder of this month to assess the bidders – who include a string of US billionaires and the pillars of the British corporate establishment – and its work to approve the four associations means the process may need to be expanded.
One of the bidders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they now expect a final recommendation to ministers later than the original target date for the week of April 18, and the deal is now likely to be completed in May.
In addition to Mr Pagliuca’s consortium, the bidders consist of: a group led by Sir Martin Bruton, former chairman of Liverpool and British Airways, and which includes billionaire Crystal Palace shareholders Dave Pletzer and Josh Harris; An offer led by Todd Boyle, part-owner of L.A. Dodgers, which includes support from Clearlake Capital, a US investment firm; and the Ricketts family of owners of the Chicago Cubs, who teamed up with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin.
The four remaining bidders visited London last week to meet Chelsea board members, CEOs and Wren as they vie to end Abramovich’s 19-year tenure.
All have been told they must make legal pledges that they will secure at least £1 billion in investment in the club’s infrastructure, academy and women’s team if they take over in the coming weeks.
The sale was complicated by the sanctions imposed on Abramovich and the pursuit of last season’s Champions League winners.
Between them, the final bidders either control or own stakes in a host of North American teams spanning baseball, basketball, and ice hockey.
The group of American sports billionaires circling Chelsea underscores the extent to which the Premier League has become a magnet for financiers across the Atlantic over the past 20 years.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were acquired by US-based businessmen during that period, and a large number of first-class clubs have American backing as well.
By the standards of traditional buyouts, the Chelsea auction moved at breakneck speed, with executives at other major investment banks suggesting that such a complex sale would normally take at least six months.
A quick sale is seen as essential if Chelsea are to avoid the uncertainty that could lead to the disintegration of one of the most valuable playing teams in the first division.
The current FIFA Club World Cup winners have been thrown into disarray by Russia’s war on Ukraine, with Mr. Abramovich initially proposing to put the club under his foundation’s sponsorship and then formally putting it up for sale.
Mr Abramovich had initially charged £3 billion on the Stamford Bridge uniform, with the net proceeds being donated to a charity set up for the benefit of war victims in Ukraine. He also said he intended to cancel a £1.5 billion loan to the club.
In addition to government approval in the form of a special licence, new Chelsea owners will also require approval from the Premier League under the appropriate and appropriate ownership test.
A Pagliuca spokeswoman declined to comment, while none of those who are understood to be joining his consortium have been reached for comment.