Seven-time Formula One world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton and tennis superstar Serena Williams are preparing to join a consortium that is bidding to complete a takeover of Chelsea.
The group, which is headed by former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton, boasts a number of wealthy investors from the business and sporting sectors and is hoping to seize control at Stamford Bridge as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich – who has seen his assets frozen by the UK government - prepares to sell up.
A long-running battle to take ownership of Premier League heavyweights is edging towards a conclusion, with only three parties left in the running after a list of preferred bidders was drawn up and final offers were tabled.
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Why are Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams involved?
Both Hamilton and Williams have become established investors after dominating in their chosen professions and building substantial personal fortunes.
Williams’ Serena Ventures, a venture capital fund, has recently announced an investment in Opensponsorship, a British-based sports technology star-up, while Hamilton is associated with a number of early-stage companies.
It is understood both have been in talks with Broughton for several weeks regarding potential involvement in a bid for Chelsea.
Racing icon Hamilton is known to be a big football supporter, with ties to many prominent figures in the sport – including Paris Saint-German forward Neymar – but he has been an Arsenal fan since he was a child and could now become a direct rival of the Gunners.
What has Hamilton had to say on Chelsea?
The Stevenage-born 37-year-old told Sky Sports: “I’ve been a football fan since I was a kid. I played football from the age of four until I was 17 – I was in teams every year, I played in the school team every year through my childhood. I have been to numerous games.
“When I was young, around the corner from where I lived is where I used to play football with all the kids and a couple of my close friends at the time.
“I really wanted to fit in – I was the only kid of colour there but I know that the kids all supported someone different – one was Tottenham, one was Man Utd.
"I remember switching between these teams when I was younger and getting home and my sister punching me several times in the arm, beating me and saying ‘you have to support Arsenal’, so I remember at five or six years old that I became a supporter of Arsenal.
“My uncle Terry is a big Blues fans so I have been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play.
“Ultimately, I am a sporting fan. It is the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and most successful.
“When I heard about this opportunity I was like ‘wow, this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something so great’.”
Who else is involved in Broughton’s consortium?
Hamilton and Williams and not the only sporting greats to form part of Broughton’s consortium, with former Olympic champion Lord Sebastian Coe also one of the backers.
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), a holding company headed by American private equity billionaires Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, are also involved – but they will need to part with a minor shareholding in Crystal Palace before any deal can be completed.
Canada’s Rogers family, with strong ties to the telecommunications industry, John Arnold – who chaired the Houston 2026 World Cup bid committee - and Taiwan’s Tsai family will also be investing if Broughton’s consortium prove successful.
Alejandro Santo Domingo, who is an heir to the world’s biggest brewing fortune and is already invested in a number of North American sport franchises, is also likely to be involved.
The other bidders looking to complete a takeover at Chelsea are consortiums headed by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and Boston Celtics stakeholder Steve Pagliuca.