Chelsea takeover: Saudi Media Group, Woody Johnson & more ruled out of running

Krishan Davis
Chelsea have narrowed down their list of potential new owners
Chelsea have narrowed down their list of potential new owners / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

A number of bidders for Chelsea FC have been ruled out of the running to take over the club as the list of potential buyers was finally narrowed down on Thursday afternoon.

As many as 20 bids were believed to have been made, eight of which had been confirmed publicly, after current owner Roman Abramovich announced his intention to sell before sanctions were imposed on him by the UK government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

New York-based merchant bank the Raine Group is handling the transaction and had encouraged interested parties to make their offers for Chelsea before a deadline of Friday 18 March, before the bidders would be whittled down to a shortlist of preferred options this week based on assurances about future spending.

Although the process has taken longer than anticipated, a number of prospective buyers have now been informed that they are out of the running - although there is still doubt surrounding several others.

The Saudi Media Group (SMG) - the biggest media company in the Middle East - has been unsuccessful with its £2.7bn offer, as has the owner of the New York Jets NFL side Woody Johnson.

Although no reason has yet been given, it would have taken some time for SMG to pass the Premier League's ownership checks when a quick sale is required, as was the case for Newcastle United's new proprietors.

Egyptian businessman Muhsin Barak, who was among the first to publicly state his interest, is also out of the bidding.

Although unconfirmed, a bid in excess of £2bn from London-based financial firm Aethel Partners is also not expected to pass to the next round of the auction.

There is doubt surrounding whether global investment firm Centricus and British billionaire Nick Candy's consortium have made the cut, but at this stage the consortium led by the LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, the Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family, and British businessman Sir Michael Broughton's joint bid with Lord Sebastian Coe are believed to be the favourites.

Once the sale eventually does go through, Chelsea are likely to have become the most expensive sports team in history.

For more from Krishan Davis, follow him on Twitter.