The four contenders vying to buy Chelsea will submit final bids on April 11, paving the way for a prospective new owner to seek government permission to take over from Roman Abramovich by the end of next month.
Remaining contenders have been notified by Raine Group, the merchant bank handling the Blues’ sale, that binding offers must be made on or around that date.
Bidders – who include several US sports franchise-owning billionaires – will have the opportunity to improve their offers from the indicative proposals which saw them make it through to the final stages of one of the most extraordinary corporate auctions of recent times.
The quartet of contenders had been told by Raine on Saturday they must commit at least £1bn to future investment in the club if they are to succeed in the battle to end Abramovich’s two-decade tenure.
The additional funding must be made available for the Blues’ Stamford Bridge stadium, playing squad and other areas of development.
All four of the remaining bidders have significant experience in sports stadium infrastructure, a key consideration given Chelsea’s long-standing dilemma about the expansion of Stamford Bridge, which has a capacity barely half that of Manchester United’s Old Trafford home.
Between them, the final bidders either control or own stakes in US teams including the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Cubs, the LA Dodgers, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings.
Sir Martin Broughton, the former British Airways and Liverpool FC chairman, and Lord Coe, the former British Olympian turned sports administrator and businessman, are fronting a bid that has the financial firepower of Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, two wealthy American financiers. –Skysports