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One of Britain’s richest men launched a last-minute move for the club on Friday, throwing fresh uncertainty over a process that is finally nearing completion.
US merchant bank Raine Group were in the process of confirming to the three shortlisted contenders who would be submitted to the Treasury as the successful candidate when Ratcliffe’s £4.25billion offer was revealed.
While Boehly is now in a five-day period of exclusive negotiations, Ratcliffe’s bid remains on the table and is still seen by sources close to the process as a viable option.
As a result Raine are still to publicly confirm Boehly as their choice to buy out Roman Abramovich. It is believed that an increased offer from Ratcliffe - owner of INEOS - could be enough to blow the process wide open.
It is thought he bypassed Raine in making his offer, thus avoiding the complex bidding process set up by the bank. Steve Pagliuca and Sir Martin Broughton were informed on Friday afternoon that their bids had been unsuccessful.
Boehly had been the outstanding favourite from the moment the Ricketts family pulled out on the eve of final offers being made. His plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge were among the strongest points of his bid, while he also had the advantage of already carrying out due diligence when previously trying to buy the club.
Ratcliffe was also a former suitor and his dramatic insertion into the process could yet have an impact. He has not been told his bid is too late.
While Boehly has the chance push through his buyout, the threat of Ratcliffe will leave him aware that there can be no hitches for fear of seeing his rival steal in.
In a statement, INEOS said: “This is a British bid, for a British club. We believe that a club is bigger than its owners who are temporary custodians of a great tradition. With responsibility to the fans and the community.
“That is why we are committing to spending £1.75bn over 10 years that will be for the direct benefit of the club. We will invest in Stamford Bridge to make it a world-class stadium, befitting of Chelsea FC. This will be organic and on-going so that we will not move away from the home of Chelsea and risk losing the support of loyal fans.
“We believe that London should have a club that reflects the stature of the city. One that is held in the same regard as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We intend Chelsea to be that club.”