Ricketts Family Flying to London to Pursue Chelsea Bid, Now Viewed as Favorites (Updated)

Update: According to a Financial Times report, the Ricketts family is not among the two favorites to land Chelsea. Though we’re thought to have a strong case, their bid “was weakened by renewed scrutiny of leaked correspondence in which the family’s patriarch wrote that Muslims are the “enemy.”

Chelsea fans have vocally opposed the family’s bid, even creating a viral social media campaign with #NoToRicketts that garnered quite a bit of attention. It is truly astonishing how quickly the Cubs owners have pissed away the seemingly unlimited supply of goodwill that came from bringing the club its first title.

This attempted play for Chelsea is part of that, since crying poor while attempting to negotiate the $4 billion purchase of another team created terrible optics. But hey, the Cubs increased in value by 13% over last year and are now worth $3.8 billion.

As further evidence that owning a baseball team isn’t a terrible business venture, one of the preferred Chelsea bids is from a group led by Dodgers owner Todd Boehly. The other is from Josh Harris and David Blitzer, private equity billionaires who own the Philadelphia 76ers, among other holdings.

You may not be able to place a bet at the sportsbook at Wrigley Field, but you might want to wager on the Ricketts family’s Chelsea Football Club bid if you can find a place to do so. Though they had opened as underdogs at +750, the folks at Gambling.com have now installed the Cubs owners as favorites from among a group of 12 different suitors for the soccer club.

The Ricketts family now sits at +110 to win the Chelsea sweepstakes, a big shift in the wake of news that they’re advancing their candidacy in a big way. They have displaced Nick Candy, a London-based luxury property developer who holds an emotional edge as a lifelong Chelsea fan and probably even met his wife in the bleachers during a sunny afternoon at the pitch.

Interestingly enough, the Rickettses aren’t the only baseball people mentioned as part of the bidding. A’s executive and minority owner Billy Beane comes in at +5000, last on the list, but he’s got a history in professional soccer as a minority owner of Barnsley FC of the EFL Championship in England and AZ Alkmaar of the Eredivisie in the Netherlands.

That interest fueled reports that Beane was leaving Oakland to join Red Sox owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group following a merger with RedBall Acquisition Corp. in order to turn his focus from baseball to other sports ventures. The new conglomerate was expected to target opportunities in European soccer, but Beane is clearly already invested there on his own.

His inclusion here might just be a function of his existing involvement because there’s no way he’s footing close to $4 billion on his own.

It’s a little surprising that MMA star and whiskey baron Conor McGregor is all the way down at +4000, particularly with his repeated public announcements of a desire to buy Chelsea. Then again, he’s built an entire brand on bravado that he hasn’t been able to back up for quite a while now.

The big shift in odds came on the heels of news from across the pond that the Cubs owners have stepped up their efforts in a big way. They’ve already begun making inroads with local politicians by speaking with Greg Hands, Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham, and are now headed to London to meet directly with the integral parties.

I continue to find this very interesting on a number of different levels, including whether and how it impacts the Cubs this season and into the future.

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