According to the British press, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis player Serena Williams have each pledged about £10 million towards a bid to purchase London’s Chelsea FC.
The owner, Roman Abramovich – triple citizen of Russia, Israel and Portugal – put the club up for sale on March 2, only to come under sanction eight days later from the U.K. government, which claims to have evidence of his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The government says it will be ensuring that no proceeds from the sale go to Abramovich.
The consortium to which Hamilton and Williams reportedly belong is led by the former chairman of both Liverpool and British Airways, Sir Martin Broughton, and includes the politician and former athlete Lord Sebastian Coe as well as the co-owners of Crystal Palace FC, Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Harris and Blitzer reportedly seek a controlling stake and will have to sell their stake in Crystal Palace if the bid goes through. Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, already owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils.
Also in the consortium, it is said, are the Rogers family, owners of Canada’s Rogers Communications, and the Tsai family, owners of two Taiwanese sports teams.
There are at present two opposing bids for Chelsea, one led by Steve Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics, the other led by Todd Boehly, part-owner of the L.A. Dodgers. The Ricketts family has withdrawn its bid.
Already an investor in L.A.’s Angel City FC, Serena Williams operates a venture capital firm called Serena Ventures, which recently invested in the British sports marketer Opensponsorship.