Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid to buy Chelsea has been “rejected out of hand” by the bank overseeing the sale of the Premier League club.
The consortium led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly is understood to be the preferred bidder and is set to have the opportunity to seal a Stamford Bridge takeover.
Britain’s richest man Ratcliffe confirmed a last-ditch £4.25billion offer to buy Chelsea on Friday, however, tabled at the very tail-end of the sale process.
Ineos owner Ratcliffe carried out extensive due diligence on Chelsea in 2019 only to opt against submitting a formal offer to buy the west London club.
The British billionaire had distanced himself from a bid for Chelsea in early March, with his brother Bob reiterating previous determination at Ineos not to be “dumb money” in football.
But crucially, Ratcliffe never categorically ruled himself out of a bid for the Blues.
Chelsea chiefs had not expected Ratcliffe to make such a late, dramatic entrance into the race however, with the British tycoon understood to have met with Blues chairman Bruce Buck on Thursday.
New York merchant bank, The Raine Group, has overseen the process ever since Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale back in March.
Despite being knocked back the Ratcliffe bid insist they remain undeterred in their desire to take over and will continue to speak with fan groups.
“We’ve been rejected out of hand by Raine, but we will keep reminding people we are still here,” Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, told Bloomberg.
“We will continue to engage with the fanbase. We see ourselves as a fan-based bid.”
Sale proceedings have hit a bump in recent days, however, with the news that Abramovich expects his £1.5billion loan to Chelsea to be frozen when the club’s sale is carried out.
Fears are thought to have been raised in government that Abramovich could insist on his loan being repaid, which could jeopardise the entire sale process.
Abramovich is understood to have been advised that the UK government sanctions against him block his plans to write off Chelsea’s debt.
The 55-year-old pledged to wipe out his loan to Chelsea when confirming he had put the Stamford Bridge club up for sale on 2 March, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Downing Street imposed sanctions on Abramovich on 10 March, claiming to have proved the business magnate’s links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The terms of those sanctions have left Chelsea’s parent company Fordstam Limited frozen, with the Blues operating under a special government licence.
And now Chelsea’s long-term owner expects his loan to the club to be frozen when the sale is completed.
Abramovich vowed to create a new charitable foundation and donate all the proceeds of Chelsea’s sale to aid victims of the war in Ukraine when initially putting the Blues up for sale.
The government is likely to divert the sale proceeds to charitable causes, but Downing Street chiefs could yet also freeze those funds.
Chelsea’s sale needs to be completed by 31 May, when the government’s special licence expires.
Both the Raine Group and Chelsea have been confident the sale would remain on course to meet that deadline.
Additional reporting by PA