The Ricketts family's bid to buy Chelsea suffered a significant blow after supporters turned on them just as three or four preferred bidders are set to be decided upon by Raine Group.
The US consortium led by Tom Ricketts, the chairman of Major League Baseball (MLB) team Chicago Cubs, with the backing of Citadel founder Ken Griffin who is reportedly worth $26.5 billion, has some of the highest financial support of any option for the Blues.
However, alleged Islamophobic emails from his father Joe which were released in 2019 have served to stall momentum around the bid, along with the recent underperformance of his MLB team.
What can Ricketts do?
New York investment bank Raine Group are imminently set to decide preferred bidders alongside Chelsea's senior staff, including Marina Granovskaia, Bruce Buck and Eugene Tenenbaum.
Should Ricketts' group get through, they have plans to meet with Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST) and Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), who are the most influential fan groups.
With the UK Government also involved in the process, Ricketts has already had a call with Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands.
They are thought to have a good chance of reaching the next stage despite the backlash, with US bidders expected to get favoured.
What do people think in Chicago?
Head of the Chelsea Chicago Supporters Club, Brian Wolff - who is also a Cubs season-ticket holder - has caused a stir with his comments about the prospective owner.
"I've had a unique position hearing what supporters in Chicago and worldwide have said regarding the Ricketts family's bid for Chelsea," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. "I can report the vast majority of opinion has been of universal disdain.
"The Ricketts' political donations, fundraising and support for candidates who do not share the inclusive views of Chelsea Football Club and its supporters are wholly inconsistent with 19 years of fantastic work done by the club and the Chelsea Foundation, most notably as a leader in committing to a living wage and efforts to protect and promote equality for BAME and LGBTQ+ communities.
"Their ownership of Chicago Cubs baseball and redevelopment of Wrigley Field raises serious doubts whether they will build upon the club's success on the pitch, and also the continued existence of the Chelsea Pitch Owners and the goal to keep Chelsea Football Club playing at Stamford Bridge at our forever home.
"On behalf of countless supporters worldwide, I urge you to reject their bid for ownership of Chelsea Football Club in favour of others who will commit to not only building upon the last two decades of investment in players and infrastructure, but equally important, the investment in supporters and the values we hold dear."
A response to Wolff's claims reads: “Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms. Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society. We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of colour.
“Respect for diversity and inclusion are central to our family’s values. If we prevail in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the Club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values.”