Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton join Broughton’s bid to buy Chelsea

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Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams have joined one of three shortlisted bids for Chelsea Football Club as the auction for the English Premier League side enters its final stages.

The British Formula One driver and the US tennis legend are backing the bid led by City grandee Martin Broughton and private equity billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Hamilton and Williams have joined the bidding to acquire Chelsea from sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who is selling the club as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The club has a global profile as one of the best-known teams in the Premier League, and its sale is attracting some of the world’s richest investors.

It is unclear how much capital Hamilton and Williams are willing to stump up, however. Sky News, which broke the news of their involvement, reported they had pledged to invest roughly £10mn each in the bid.

A spokeswoman for Hamilton confirmed he had joined Broughton’s consortium but said the figure on his investment was wrong, although she declined to correct it.

Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam titles, has earned $94mn in prize money in her near three-decade-long career. In March, her company Serena Ventures said it had raised a new $111mn fund for investments.

Representatives for Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

US financier Todd Boehly is leading a rival offer for Chelsea backed by Clearlake Capital, while sports moguls Stephen Pagliuca and Larry Tanenbaum also submitted an offer last week.

A fourth group, backed by Chicago’s Ricketts family, hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, dropped out of the auction last week.

Merchant bankers at Raine Group are handling the sale process, which is entering the final stages with an announcement on a preferred bidder expected as soon as next week. The winner requires approval from the UK government and the Premier League before an acquisition can go ahead.

The involvement of Hamilton and Williams in an offer for Chelsea comes after diversity became a key theme in the auction after the Ricketts drew renewed criticism from Chelsea supporters over Islamophobic comments made previously by the family patriarch in leaked emails.

A person close to Hamilton pointed to his experience both in sport and advancing diversity and inclusion as a potential benefit for Chelsea.

Hamilton, who has won seven F1 world championships, is the sport’s first black driver. He has sought to promote diversity in motor racing and led the sport’s response when police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. (Financial Times)

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