There has been much talk on the rumor mill regarding the ownership of London’s most lucrative club in the modern era, and who will be the owner in the near future? It’s no secret, Roman Abramovich is having serious visa issues, which in turn portrays an inevitable image that he isn’t as “invested” as he once was. The lucrative plans on the club’s new stadium are on hold, and we aren’t spending £300 million every summer like in the good ol’ days. The question that has been on every Chelsea fan’s lips recently is:
Is it time for a new owner at Chelsea Football Club? Well…
Part I – The Fans View
I ran a poll last week on my twitter page, to gauge the opinions of the Chelsea faithful. Below are the results:
In all honesty, I was shocked slightly by the result, but more-so the margin of the result percentage-wise. From 446 votes, close to three-thirds of Chelsea fans who voted would want Roman Abramovich to sell, and a new owner at Chelsea Football Club. Now read that last sentence again, kind of scary right?
Personally, I think these results transpire from perhaps a “younger” crop of supporters, of whom maybe haven’t seen the other side of the coin without Roman as our owner (cue the Ken Bates days), or have become so accustomed to the absurdity of Roman’s previous spending, that now he cannot compete with the new-found tycoons at Manchester City, PSG, etc, its time for him to move on. Also, I believe these results may stem from the current frustrations of the club, with Roman seemingly taking a back seat due to his visa issues, and handing the reigns to a controversial figure in Marina Granovskaia.
Part II – Potential Buyers
Further reports have circulated today that English billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s potential interest in purchasing the club is still alive. He was recently interviewed, with a video version circulating on “Football Twitter.” Ratcliffe with relation to Chelsea was seen saying: “I’d never say no. But I don’t know where those conversations will finish up.”
A quick fact file for you on Jim Ratcliffe (Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe):
- 66-year-old British billionaire chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist
- Chairman and CEO of Ineos Chemicals group
- Net worth around £21 billion. The richest person in the UK.
- Resides in Chelsea, London. Manchester United fan.
Reportedly, whilst Mr. Ratcliffe has not hidden his potential desire to purchase Chelsea Football Club, he has balked at the £3 billion asking price by Roman Abramovich. This is potentially down to his apparent lack of “extensive knowledge” in the football world, where he has yet to make a significant financial stamp in, aside from his investment in a small club in Switzerland.
Personally, I believe this potential buyer as we speak now worries me more than excites me. Yes, he is British and resides in the area which is positive. However, he is an openly fanatic Manchester United fan, openly admitted he isn’t an expert in the game in football and has recently invested in other sporting ventures, sailing and cycling to be exact. This final image paints one of a man who would like the pride of owning a decorated sporting portfolio, rather than a passionate football man of whom would come in with his heart set on making the necessary changes to make Chelsea great once again. For me, it’s a no.
There have also been rumors of a potential Saudi-Arabian tycoon expressing interest in buying the club, but that’s all we’ve really heard up until this point. This may sound exciting to many, when you look at the success the Arab contingency has brought to current Premier League superpower Manchester City, of whom have invested not just a breath-taking amount of money, but they did it within a structured plan that improved the entire club as a whole. This symbolizes true care for the club, but also how important having a strategic plan is. Would the Arab’s interested in Chelsea come with a similar plan? We are yet to see…
Part III: Personal Outlook
Summarizing this article, a lot of the facts are still to be known. Reports are circulating, stories are being pitched, however, we are no closer to knowing who will own Chelsea Football Club in the near future. Will it be Roman Abramovich, Jim Ratcliffe, a Middle-Eastern tycoon? Time will tell.
Personally, I am not overly tied to any particular individual being the owner of Chelsea Football Club. Naturally, I tend to have loyalty to Mr. Abramovich for all he has done, and I wouldn’t be overly discouraged if Roman remained, nor would I be surprised. Nevertheless, I would openly also be excited if a potential buyer came in, only with the right intentions. Chelsea Football Club does not need a Glazer family or the fiasco of clubs like Leeds United in recent times. We need another Abramovich of 2003, someone who is passionate about the game, wants to invest in the entire infrastructure of the club, and someone who has a plan. A plan to take Chelsea to the pinnacle of the game. Roman did that once, can he do it again? Or is it time for someone else to take the reigns…
My prediction? Roman remains the owner of the club for the immediate future. If his visa issues are sorted, he will remain. However, if a bid comes in around the £3 billion mark in the next season or two, and Roman trusts this individual to take the club forward, the club will be taken in a new direction. Do not be surprised if this doesn’t happen for at least 1-3 years, however.
I will finish with this though, “You don’t know what you got, till its gone.”
Written by Dan McCarthy – @maccasport