Ricketts family drops bid for English soccer club | Regional Government

The Ricketts family have abandoned their interest in buying Premier League football club Chelsea – a move that spurred opposition from the English club’s supporters over offensive comments made by the wealthy family’s patriarch.

The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, had sought to buy Chelsea through a forced sale spurred by sanctions against its Russian owner.

Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs and brother of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, led the takeover attempt by a consortium that also included American investors Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert.

The campaign sparked a backlash from some Chelsea fans, who pointed to anti-Islamic comments made by the Ricketts’ father, Joe Ricketts, in leaked emails published three years ago. The emails sent or received between 2009 and 2013 contained comments such as “Islam is a cult and not a religion”. Other emails discussed conspiracies about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education.

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The elder Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized at the time and said the emails didn’t reflect his value system.

The family responded to the uproar from Chelsea supporters in a statement earlier in the trial. They also determined that Joe Ricketts was not involved in the attempted purchase.

“Respect for diversity and inclusion are core values ​​of our family,” the family statement said. “If we win our bid to join Chelsea, we will make a commitment to the club and to the fans that we will actively promote those values.”

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The pledge was factored into an eight-point plan, known as the Commitment List, that the family has released regarding Chelsea’s future. According to multiple outlets, one commitment read: “Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality.”

The family’s diversity and inclusion pledge came less than five months after Pete Ricketts denounced a racial equality plan published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in November.

Ultimately, however, the group dropped their bid citing unspecified “issues.”

“After careful consideration, the Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert group has decided not to make a definitive bid for Chelsea,” the group said on Friday. “As their bid was finalized, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics in the sales process. We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans and wish the new owners well.”

Ryan Hoffman and Sara Gentzler of the Omaha World-Herald contributed to this report.

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