The Ricketts family are one of the final bidders hoping to seal a takeover at Chelsea as current owner Roman Abramovich looks to sell after 19 years in charge at Stamford Bridge.
The Ricketts family is headed by patriarch Joe Ricketts, who co-owns baseball’s Chicago Cubs with his four children – Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd. It is Tom, who serves as chairman of the Cubs, and Laura who are specifically fronting the bid for Chelsea.
Tom led the family’s takeover of the Cubs in 2009, worth up to an estimated $900m. He the co-founder and former CEO of a financial services firm after initially working at other firms earlier in his business career.
In addition to being on the Cubs board, Laura is a liberal and LGBTQ activist. As a Democrat, she also differs politically from the rest of her family, as well as serving on the National Leadership Council of Lambda Legal, a longstanding civil rights organisation for those in the LGBTQ community and those living with HIV/AIDS. She is America’s first openly gay owner of a major league sports team.
Pete is a Republican politician and is the current serving governor of Nebraska, from where the family hails. Todd is on the board of directors at Joe’s financial brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and is also the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Joe Ricketts, 80, made his fortune in the finance sector, co-founding a brokerage firm in 1975 that eventually became TD Ameritrade. He eventually retired from the company in 2011 to focus on new entrepreneurial ventures and philanthropy.
The family’s total estimated net worth has been reported at $4.9bn.
The Ricketts family are not the sole party in their bid for Chelsea.
Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, whose estimated net worth is $28.5bn is part of the group and would become a shareholder in Chelsea if the Ricketts takeover is successful. Despite his enormous finances, he has largely occupied a background role.
Rock Entertainment Group are also part of the bid. They own a number of sports teams, including the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and are fronted by Dan Gilbert. His net worth is thought to be even higher than Griffin’s at an estimated $31bn.
Prior to facing Brentford in the Premier League on 2 April, up to 100 Chelsea fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge to protest against the Ricketts family over historical comments using Islamophobic language made by Joe Ricketts.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) said that its member ‘neither supports nor has confidence in’ the family as potential new owners of the club. More than three quarters of those who were polled did not support their bid.
In the wake of the fan protests, the Ricketts family issues a list of promises to Chelsea supporters in an attempt to try and curry favour, including things such as shunning a future attempt at European Super League and specifically promoting diversity and inclusion.
1. Make no change to the club’s name, badge and crest, or Chelsea blue, without the consent of supporters.
2. Never participate in a European Super League and always protect the integrity and heritage of Chelsea F.C.
3. Commit the resources necessary across all levels of the club to continue winning trophies, including investing in the first team, experienced football leadership and the academy.
4. Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality.
5. Create an Advisory Committee with diverse representation to ensure our decisions are informed by: a former men’s and women’s first team player, members of the CST and Chelsea Pitch Owners, and influential community leaders.
6. Explore every option to redevelop Stamford Bridge and do everything in our power to keep playing in this historic stadium.
7. Match the current commitment to Chelsea F.C. Women and increase the number of women’s matches played at Stamford Bridge.
8. Continue the vital charitable work of the Chelsea Foundation, seeking to use the power of football and sport to motivate, educate and inspire.