The bid for Chelsea launched by Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca has added Canadian sports tycoon Larry Tanenbaum ahead of Thursday's expected deadline for improved offers for the Premier League club.
Tanenbaum, who was announced Wednesday as joining as co-managing partner of the bid, has ownership stakes in Toronto with the NBA's Raptors, the NHL's Maple Leafs and the city's MLS team.
They face three rivals bidders for Chelsea, which was put up for sale by sanctioned Russian oligarch owner Roman Abramovich after the war on Ukraine was launched by President Vladimir Putin.
There are also bids from Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, a consortium featuring Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, and another group fronted by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton involving Josh Harris, who owns the Philadelphia 76ers and has a stake in Premier League club Crystal Palace.
Boehly now faces a rival from within the Dodgers ownership group to buy Chelsea with Peter Guber announced as being being behind Pagliuca's bid. Guber is also a part owner at the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Football Club of MLS.
Pagliuca has provided the most details about who is backing his interest in Chelsea, which could be sold for 3 billion pounds ($4 billion) given the interest that has emerged since Abramovich put the west London club up for sale six weeks ago.
Tanenbaum's investments are through the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group and he is also chairman of the board of governors of the NBA.
“The decision to partner with Steve was an easy one as we share similar values and passion for sports," Tanenbaum said in a statement. “Once we started speaking, it was clear that we share the same long-term vision and goals for Chelsea.”
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger and wife Willow Bay, a journalist, are also behind Pagliuca's bid along with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and his wife, Elaine, a businesswoman. A statement also said B Capital co-founder Raj Ganguly, venture capitalist Jim Breyer and entrepreneur Div Turakhia were involved in trying to buy Chelsea.
The True Blues Consortium, a fans' group fronted by former Chelsea captain John Terry, also endorsed Pagliuca's bid.
The government must sign off on the sale, which is being overseen by the New York-based Raine Group merchant bank, under terms that allow the team to continue operating since Abramovich was sanctioned. Abramovich cannot profit from the proceeds of the sale.
Chelsea's Champions League title defense was ended by Real Madrid on Tuesday but Thomas Tuchel's team is on course to qualify for the lucrative UEFA competition next season as it is third in the Premier League. Chelsea remains in contention for the FA Cup with a semifinal against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
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