Dodgers main owner Mark Walter joins Chelsea bid led by Todd Boehly
Add Los Angeles Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter to the list of heavy hitters, including a number from Major League Baseball, who are trying to buy Chelsea Football Club.
Walter is joining the bid led by Todd Boehly, one of his partners at Dodgers’ Guggenheim ownership, according to a source familiar with the bidding process. The group are one of four looking to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who was sanctioned by the British government following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, are also among the bidders, as is David Blitzer, the pending minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians. Blitzer’s company, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL. Blitzer, if approved by MLB, would gain majority control of the Guardians in five to six years.
Boehly is seen as the favorite to buy Chelsea. The addition of Walter, who has a real-time net worth of $4.4 billion, according to Forbes, should put the Boehly Group on an even stronger financial footing.
The timing of Boehly’s addition of Walter is significant: next week is the deadline for bidders to submit their final offer to Raine Group, the New York-based bank leading the sale process. Boehly was in London this week, attending Chelsea’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League and then meeting Chelsea leaders on Thursday.
A winning bid from Boehly would return possessions to the Premier League rivals Dodgers and Boston Red Sox; Red Sox owner John Henry is the principal owner of Liverpool Football Club. The Raine Group is expected to submit the name of the preferred bidder to the UK government on April 18. The government has to grant a special license for the club to be sold due to its sanctions against Abramovich, but approval shouldn’t be a problem. The Premier League must also approve the purchase.
Dodgers executives believe the methodology they use in baseball would translate well to football. In the nearly 10 years since Guggenheim Baseball Management took official control of the franchise for $2.15 billion, the team has enjoyed success on the field while performing extensive renovations to update the Dodger Stadium and increasing the team’s investment in the community.
“We focused on the team. We focused on the fans in the stadium. Then we focused on the community,” said team president Stan Kasten. “What makes me most proud of my partners is that we made all those things clear the day we took over. And they lived it.
“It’s easy to articulate this kind of plan. It’s extremely difficult to execute, especially on a sustained basis.
Guggenheim’s tenure has not been without its problems, including signing pitcher Trevor Bauer to a three-year, $102 million free agent deal. Bauer remains on paid administrative leave due to sexual assault charges brought against him last summer and awaits Major League Baseball’s decision on whether or not to suspend him for violating its joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse with the Players Association. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against Bauer, but under common policy the league can suspend a player even if he is not charged or convicted of a crime.
On the court, the Dodgers under Guggenheim have become the sport’s most accomplished organization, making the playoffs nine straight years and winning their first World Series title since 1988 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. This season, they will feature four Most Valuable Player winners they have developed or acquired – pitcher Clayton Kershaw, outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger and first baseman Freddie Freeman.
The team’s renovations to Dodger Stadium have helped make the park, the third-oldest majors, the busiest majors since 2013. And according to the club, its philanthropic efforts include investments of more than $40 million in programs and grants. to local organizations over the past decade. Of this amount, $14.9 million was spent on the construction of 57 Dodgers Dreamfields, including two universally accessible fields, giving 400,000 children access to improved fields in their neighborhoods.
“We followed very basic premises,” Kasten said. “Hire the best people throughout the organization. And give them the resources to do the job.
(Photo: Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)