The Bidding for Chelsea F.C. Has Reached Record-Setting Levels

Jim Ratcliffe's $5.3 billion offer could be a literal game changer

The Chelsea corner flag is seen during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 24, 2022 in London, England.
The Chelsea corner flag, as seen on April 24, 2022 in London, England.
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

How much would you pay for one of the most valuable soccer teams in the world? Scratch that – one of the most valuable sports teams in the world, period? That would be Chelsea F.C., currently third in the Premier League and valued by Forbes, as of last year, at $3.2 billion.

The team is currently in the process of being sold, given the United Kingdom’s sanctions against owner Roman Abramovich. In the time since those sanctions were announced, there’s been a lot of speculation about what the effect might be on the famously high-spending and ambitious team — and whether the team might be sold for much less than it’s worth.

If the latest bid is any indication, however, that’s highly unlikely. The New York Times reports that Jim Ratcliffe, founder of chemical company INEOS, has just bid $5.3 billion for the club. That would set a record for the largest amount of money paid for a team playing any sport.

“The club is rooted in its community and its fans,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. “And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea F.C. for that reason.”

If the $5.3 billion figure wasn’t high enough, Ratcliffe has also promised to spend $2.1 billion more on players in the coming years. His is the fourth offer currently being considered by the club and the Raine Group, which is overseeing the transaction. Another of the groups in the running includes both Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton.

Once the Raine Group and Chelsea make their decision, the British government and the Premier League will also have to approve the sale. Ratcliffe has also vowed to donate $3.1 billion to a trust supporting victims of the war in Ukraine, though — as the Times notes — there have been few details about how that would work.

That this bid is the size it is — and that it’s substantially larger than the others still in the running — could have a significant impact on both future Premier League club sales and future sports team sales across the globe. Whether or not that’s a good thing is still up in the air.

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