Sport Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton team up to buy Chelsea FC
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Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton team up to buy Chelsea FC

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Tennis grand slam legend Serena Williams and seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton have joined forces, and a crowded field, in a bid to buy English Premier League football club Chelsea.

Hamilton, a long-standing fan of Arsenal, has seized the opportunity to invest in its London rival as three bidders try to buy the club from sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Williams and Hamilton are part of a consortium, co-headed by athletics legend Sebastian Coe, that features proposed investment from Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Mr Harris and Mr Blitzer would have to sell their stakes in another Premier League club, Crystal Palace, to buy Chelsea.

West London-based Chelsea, the reigning world and European champion, could fetch as much as £3 billion ($5.3 billion) – a record in world sports – given the interest it.

Representatives for Hamilton said he planned to invest more than £10 million ($18 million) in the bid, which is being fronted by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton and World Athletics president Lord Coe.

Williams, a 23-time grand slam winner and long-time friend of Hamilton, is reportedly prepared to stump up a similar sum.

She is already an investor in Los Angeles’ Angel City FC, which plays in America’s National Women’s Soccer League.

There is also another bid for Chelsea from Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca with Larry Tanenbaum, who has ownership stakes in Toronto with the NBA’s Raptors, the NHL’s Maple Leafs and the city’s MLS team. Peter Guber, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is also backing the group.

Another part-owner of the Dodgers, Todd Boehly, is leading yet another consortium hoping to be announced as the preferred bidder.

A New York merchant bank, the Raine Group, has been overseeing the sale process, which Abramovich announced last month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The oligarch has been sanctioned by Britain and the European Union over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. His assets, including Chelsea, have been frozen.

Abramovich has been disqualified from running Chelsea by the Premier League. Nor can he profit from the proceeds of the sale, which the British government must approve under terms of a licence that allows the team to continue playing.

-with AAP