American investor Steve Pagliuca's group is out of the running to purchase Premier League side Chelsea, his spokesperson said on Friday, but British businessman Jim Ratcliffe says he has made a late bid to buy the London club.
Chelsea were put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich in March following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and before sanctions were imposed on the oligarch by the British government.
American bank Raine is handling the sale and the spokesperson for Pagliuca's group said they had been told by the bank that they were not the 'preferred bidder' so were out of contention. Raine were not immediately reachable for comment.
Pagliuca had teamed up with NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who is owner of the Canadian company Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, which owns a number of professional sports franchises in Toronto.
British billionaire Ratcliffe, chairman of chemical company INEOS, currently owns French club OGC Nice and the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team said he had made a 'formal bid' to buy the club for 4.25 billion pounds ($5.33 billion).
"This is a British bid, for a British club," INEOS said in a statement.
"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.
"We are making this investment as fans of the beautiful game – not as a means to turn a profit. We do that with our core businesses. The club is rooted in its community and its fans. And it is our intention to invest in Chelsea FC for that reason," the statement added.
Ineos said that 2.5bn pounds was committed to the Charitable Trust to support victims of the war, while 1.75bn was for "investment directly into the club over the next 10 years".
LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly is heading another consortium as is former British Airways chairman Martin Broughton whose bid is backed by Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Boehly was "set to enter exclusive talks" over acquiring Chelsea. A spokesperson for Boehly did not immediately respond to request for comment.