The Ricketts family drop their bid for an English football club | Regional government
The Ricketts family have dropped their interest in buying Premier League football club Chelsea – a venture which has drawn opposition from the English club’s fans following offensive comments from the wealthy family patriarch.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, had led an effort to buy Chelsea through a sanctions-spurred forced sale against its Russian owner.
Tom Ricketts, Cubs president and brother of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, led the takeover attempt through a consortium that also included American investors Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert.
The campaign provoked a backlash among some Chelsea fans, who pointed to Islamophobic comments made by the Ricketts’ father, Joe Ricketts, in leaked emails published three years ago. The emails, sent or received between 2009 and 2013, included comments such as “Islam is a sect not a religion”. Other emails discussed conspiracies regarding former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education.
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The elder Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized at the time, saying the emails did not reflect his value system.
The family responded to the outcry from Chelsea supporters in a statement earlier in the process. He also noted that Joe Ricketts was not involved in the attempted purchase.
“Respect for diversity and inclusion are core to our family values,” the family statement said. “If we are successful in our bid for Chelsea, we commit to the club and the supporters to actively promote these values.”
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The pledge was factored into an eight-point plan, described as a list of commitments, which the family released regarding Chelsea’s future. According to several media outlets, a commitment read: “Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality.
The family’s commitment to diversity and inclusion came less than five months after Pete Ricketts denounced a racial equity plan released by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in November.
Ultimately, however, the band dropped their offer, citing unspecified “issues”.
“The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert group have decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final offer for Chelsea FC,” the group said in a statement shared on Friday. “During the process of finalizing their proposal, it became increasingly clear that some issues could not be resolved given the unusual dynamics surrounding the sales process. We have great admiration for Chelsea and their fans, and we wish the new owners the best of luck.”
Ryan Hoffman and Sara Gentzler of the Omaha World-Herald contributed to this report.
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