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No to Ricketts!

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The process of finding new owners for Chelsea is nearing its conclusion. Ever since the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, times have been nervy. The UK government slapped a whole host of restrictions on all of Abramovich’s assets including Chelsea. The embattled Russian oligarch has handed over the selling business to New York-based merchant bank Raine Group.

Also read: The best players to play for Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era

 

Needless to say, there have been several bids pouring in for one of England and Europe’s most successful clubs in recent times. However, one particular bid amongst them is causing a lot of consternation to Chelsea fans. The Ricketts Family, considered one of the frontrunners, has attracted a lot of protests from Blues supporters.

 

Given how they are one of the four shortlisted groups to submit a final bid by mid-April, Chelsea fans are less than pleased at how this is panning out. There is also the longstanding discussion surrounding the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.

 

Who is the Ricketts family?

The Ricketts family mainly consists of patriarch Joe Ricketts and one of his sons, Tom Ricketts who serve as the public faces. Joe Ricketts made his money as the founder and former CEO of brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. He left the company in an active role in 2011 to focus on philanthropy and other ventures.

Joe Ricketts
Joe Ricketts. Image credits: chicagotribune.com

 

Joe Rickets purchased Chicago Cubs, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team in 2009. His son, Tom Ricketts, is the Cubs’ chairman while the other three siblings serve as directors on the board. The family insists that Joe Ricketts is no longer involved in the club’s running and has nothing to do with their sporting ventures.

The bid to buy Chelsea is being led by Tom and his sister, Laura Ricketts. However, it has been a very bumpy road entirely due to Joe Ricketts in the previous decade.

 

Why are Chelsea fans protesting?

It has to do with a bunch of leaked emails written between 2009-and 2014. Splinter News released a bunch of emails in 2019, that detailed Joe Ricketts’ extremely bigoted, racist, xenophobic views surrounding Muslims and Islam. In one email from 2012, Joe Ricketts wrote,

Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society. As you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society. Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims.

Joe Ricketts continued to state that he believes Islam is a “cult and not a religion.”

 

Moreover, he had accused former US President Barack Obama of being a Muslim and favoring Muslims, having a past life as a sex worker and drug peddler.

Joe Ricketts has also been a substantial donor to Republicans over the years, and also backed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Needless to say, this has not gone down well at all with fans of Chelsea who have been loud in their displeasure.

 

What has been the reaction?

Chelsea supporters have loudly rejected the proposal put forward by the Ricketts family. The online campaign #NoToRicketts has gathered steam, culminating in a protest in front of Stamford Bridge before the game against Brentford.

 

Numerous influential groups including the Chelsea Supporters Trust and Chelsea Chicago Supporters’ Club have rejected Ricketts’ proposal. Former player Paul Canonville, the first black player to play for Chelsea, has joined them in support.

 

Tom Ricketts has been on an aggressive PR campaign, meeting fans, holding meetings with supporter groups, including putting out a family statement saying,

“Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society. We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of color. Respect for diversity and inclusion are central to our family’s values. If we prevail in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote these values.”

 

Moreover, Tom Ricketts has continually stated that Joe Ricketts has no role to play in the bid. Meanwhile, sources close to the other bidders have suggested that Raine Group is favoring Ricketts due to past connections.

This tussle will be resolved in the coming weeks. Though the other bidders are said to have a stronger chance, the Ricketts family cannot be discounted. Therefore, it will take a final decision to make things more clear.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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