Ricketts family respond to Chelsea fan backlash at bid to buy club

The Ricketts family have rejected all hate “in the strongest possible terms” amid supporter unrest at the Chicago Cubs’ candidacy to buy Chelsea.

Chelsea fans had the hashtag “NoToRicketts” trending on Twitter, with supporters raising concerns with the club and online.

Family patriarch Joe Ricketts was accused of Islamophobia in 2019, after a string of emails were leaked.

But the Ricketts family have now moved to insist they do not accept any kind of racism or hatred, in a bid to prove their suitability to take over Chelsea from Roman Abramovich.

Joe Ricketts is not involved in the Ricketts family bid, with the candidacy led by Chicago Cubs chairman Tom.

“Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms,” said the Ricketts family. “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 colour.

“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.”

Joe Ricketts described Muslims as “my enemy” in an email exchange three years ago.

Ricketts Senior later apologised for the comments, while his son Tom distanced himself from his father’s assertions.

“I deeply regret and apologise for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,” said Joe Ricketts. “Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.”

Tom Ricketts insisted at the time, separately: “My father is not involved with the operation of the Chicago Cubs in any way”.

The Premier League club’s supporters have expressed concerns on the Ricketts’ bid to Chelsea officials, while the Blues’ first black player Paul Canoville was forthright on social media.

The anti-racism campaigner tweeted: “I’ve seen and heard enough, I’m saying a big fat anti-racism no to the Ricketts bid.”

Tom Ricketts is leading his family’s bid to buy Chelsea (Getty Images)

The Ricketts family will hope their statement can allay some fears, but the Chelsea suitors are aiming to fly to London soon to speak with supporters and further explain their vision for the club.

The Ricketts’ believe their experience of renovating the Cubs’ Wrigley Field, as well as already running a successful global sports franchise puts them in a unique position among the Chelsea suitors.

Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on 2 March, following Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire was understood to have already received several big offers for Chelsea within days of putting the Blues officially up for sale.

And that brisk interest has continued unabated, despite the 55-year-old being sanctioned by the UK Government on 10 March.

Downing Street claimed to have proven Abramovich’s direct links to Vladimir Putin, freezing all his UK assets barring Chelsea, with the Blues operating under strict government licence.

Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s sale, but had already pledged to write off the club’s £1.5bn debt.

LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is among the front-runners for Chelsea, with the Ricketts’ remaining confident on their bid.

Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe have another potent offering lodged, with strong financing secured and both front men proud of the submission.

British property tycoon Nick Candy has also pushed hard with his bid for the Blues.

Saudi Media Group is another of the bids understood to carry clout, and Raine Group are moving quickly through the process given Chelsea’s need for a fast transfer of ownership.

London-based global investment firm Centricus confirmed their bid to buy Chelsea on Monday, with a consortium comprising four Blues supporters.