The remaining four bidders for Chelsea FC have been told they must commit to a minimum of £1 billion ($1.31bn) future investment in the club if they are to succeed in taking it over from the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
The money will be ringfenced for Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium, playing squad and other areas of investment, according to Sky News, a stipulation intended to reassure anxious supporters.
The final quartet all have experience in sports stadia infrastructure. This is seen as a core consideration, given that Stamford Bridge’s capacity is roughly half that of Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford.
Although they come from around the world, there is a strong US thread running through the various bidders, who either own outright or have a stake in the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Cubs, the LA Dodgers, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings.
They include former British Airways and Liverpool FC chairman Sir Martin Broughton, the Indian-born entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive, LA Dodgers part owner Todd Boehly, the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family, and US private equity billionaire Stephen Pagliuca.
The merchant bank handling the sale, Raine Group, is expected to be set days before Chelsea play fellow London outfit Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final.
One bidder conspicuous by his absence is property tycoon Nick Candy, who was eliminated from the process this week.
Other unsuccessful bidders include Saudi Media Group, whose bid was rumoured to be largely debt financed, and London investment group Centricus.
All hope is not lost, however, with Raine Group thought to be setting a deadline for second bids in mid-April.