25 May 2022 | 08:14 | Football
Former prime minister George Osborne has been airborne to help the Todd Boehly-Clearlake consortium buy Chelsea.
Sky News can exclusively reveal that city consultancy Robey Warshaw, who Mr Osborne joined last year, has signed on as a consultant to a consortium led by Mr Boehly.
The former Conservative minister left front-line politics in 2016, amassing a string of private sector jobs, including editor of the Evening Standard, a lifelong Blues fan and season ticket holder, who was pictured in the Chelsea defeat Bayern lifted the Champions League trophy after Munich in a penalty shootout in the 2012 final.
Osborne, who is also a close friend of Times columnist Lord Finkelstein, has agreed to join Chelsea’s board if Mr Boley’s bid is successful.
Robey Warshaw is now advising Goldman Sachs on the bid, including Mr. Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Hansjorg Wyss and others.
Since 2003, Roman Abramovich’s government sanctions and the Premier League’s disqualification as director of the club he owns have left the Stamford Bridge team’s fate in the hands of ministers.
Commercial bank Raine Group, which is in charge of the sale, is expected to identify preferred bidders in the coming weeks, when it will be recommended to the government for a special license to approve the sale.
When a consortium of the Ricketts family owned by the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin pulled out of the process on Friday, the number of Chelsea suitors dropped from Four reduced to three.
The consortium issued a brief statement saying it has not submitted a final offer due to “certain issues” [that] Given the unusual dynamics surrounding the sales process, it cannot be resolved.”
A source close to the Ricketts-led bid said Mr Griffin had decided not to commit to a binding offer.
The group’s decision pits Boehly’s bid against that of former British Airways and Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton, which includes money from Crystal Palace shareholders and private equity billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer; Co-owner Steve Pagliuca and a rival led by NBA President Larry Tanenbaum, who owns elite sports teams including football, basketball and ice hockey.
The True Blues Consortium – a group of Chelsea supporters whose founders include former Blues captain John Terry – backed Mr Pagliuca’s bid.
More than 10,000 Chelsea fans have expressed interest in owning more than £150m worth of shares and Abramovich will be replaced as the club’s owner as part of the deal.
Sky News reported earlier this week that Boley’s offer would actually be led by San Francisco-based investment firm Clearlake Capital, which would own at least 50 per cent of Chelsea if the bid is successful.
Boehly and his co-investors Mark Walter and Wyss will have minority stakes, although they will share operational control of the club.
London property developer Jonathan Goldstein, who works closely with Boehly, also bid.
The final bid, expected to value Chelsea at more than £2.5bn, breaking a record for a sporting club takeover, was submitted on Thursday.
Sources close to the remaining bidders said Rennes had told them it was likely to wait for the Premier League’s approval of all consortia before presenting a preferred bidder to ministers.
Robey Warshaw declined to comment on Saturday, while Boehly’s consortium has been contacted for comment.