The Ricketts family-led consortium which had been one of the favoured bidders to buy Chelsea has announced it will be withdrawing from the takeover battle at Stamford Bridge.
The consortium, headed by the family who already own the Chicago Cubs baseball team in the United States, had partnered with U.S. billionaires Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert in efforts to seize control in west London from the departing Roman Abramovich.
Those plans have now been shelved, with suggestions those involved in the bid have been unable to decide on the final make up of any deal.
What have the Ricketts family said?
The consortium said in a statement released on Friday: “The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert Group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea FC.
“In the process of finalising their proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process.
“We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans, and we wish the new owners well.”
How many remain in the running?
Final offers for Chelsea had to be on the table and passed to the Raine Group, the bank handling the sale of the Premier League heavyweights, on Thursday.
With the Ricketts family – who had faced protests against their bid - out of the running, three parties remain in the race.
Steve Pagliuca, Sir Martin Broughton and Todd Boehly are now battling for ownership of the Blues.
GOAL view – Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella
“The Ricketts pulling out might seem like they've succumbed to pressure from sections of the fan base over their bid but sources suggest that wasn't the reason.
“In fact, they had successfully managed to get some of the match-going support onside through several meetings.
“Them pulling out at the final hour is a big surprise but owes more to them not being able to agree on a deal amongst the various billionaires Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert about how much they own and what they put in.”