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Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly in exclusive negotiations to buy Chelsea for $3B

The consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is in exclusive negotiations to buy Premier League club Chelsea for $3 billion (£2.4bn), a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

Boehly’s consortium was one of a number of bidders that had approached New York-based bank Raine with bids to purchase the team, which was put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and before sanctions were imposed on the oligarch by the British government.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe had launched a late bid to buy the club for £4.25bn ($5.3bn) on Friday as the three offers featuring American investors already were being assessed.

Abramovich has been seeking £3bn for the club after deciding to sell following his sanctioning by the U.K. government for alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the war in Ukraine, but the bidders were believed to have reached only about £2.5bn.

Earlier this week, Abramovich asked for an extra £500 million to go to a charity set up to help Ukraine war victims — under government terms, he cannot receive any proceeds from the sale himself. This caused a delay that led Nadine Dorries, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, to declare Chelsea “on borrowed time” to complete a sale given that their special licence to operate while under Abramovich’s ownership expires May 31.

With Boehly the preferred bidder by New York-based bank Raine, which has been handling the sale of the club, the status of Ratcliffe’s offer was not clear.

A spokesperson for Ratcliffe declined to comment on the details of the bid or respond to Boehly entering exclusivity.

Boehly’s consortium includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and British property investor Jonathan Goldstein.

A group led by American investor Steve Pagliuca said they had been told by Raine they were not the “preferred bidder” so were out of contention. Raine representatives were not immediately reachable for comment.

Pagliuca had teamed up with NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum, whose Canadian company Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment owns a number of professional sports franchises in Toronto.

Ratcliffe, chairman of chemical company INEOS, owns French club OGC Nice and the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team.

“This is a British bid, for a British club,” INEOS said in a statement.

“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club.”

Ineos said £2.5bn was committed to a charitable trust to support victims of the war, while £1.75bn was for “investment directly into the club over the next 10 years.”

Another of the bidding consortiums was led by former British Airways chairman Martin Broughton, whose offer is backed by Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams.

The Broughton bidders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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