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Hamilton, Serena Williams join bid to buy Chelsea

SEVEN-time F1 world champion and 23-times Grand Slam winner, Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams, two of the world’s biggest sports stars, are committing millions of pounds to one of the bids vying to become the new owners of Chelsea Football Club.

Sky News revealed on Thursday the full line-up of investors backing the takeover offer for Chelsea spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton, the former Liverpool FC and British Airways chairman – the most prominent of whom are the seven-times Formula One world champion and the former women’s world tennis number one.

Sources close to the group said that Sir Lewis and Ms Williams – the highest-profile members of any of the three remaining consortia – had pledged an estimated £10m each to the bid.

Both Sir Lewis, who will compete for his Mercedes team at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this weekend, and Ms Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slams including seven Wimbledon titles, have become established investors in their own right in recent years.

Serena Ventures, the tennis star’s venture capital fund, this week announced an investment in Opensponsorship, a British-based sports technology start-up, while Sir Lewis has backed a range of early-stage companies such as Zapp, the London-based rapid grocery delivery app.

Their involvement in the Chelsea auction is unexpected – not least because Sir Lewis is an Arsenal fan.

Sir Lewis and Ms Williams have, however, been in talks with the group spearheaded by Sir Martin for several weeks.

It was unclear on Thursday morning which corporate entities would be used by the pair to invest in the Blues.

The consortium is uniquely British-led among the trio of shortlisted bidders and features another UK sporting icon in the form of Lord Coe among its backers.

A source close to the group said the addition of Sir Lewis and Ms Williams was a serious investment decision because of their experience at building global sports brands.

They also pointed out that the involvement of the pair was not the first time famous athletes had backed a Premier League club: LeBron James, the basketball legend, has been a small shareholder in Liverpool for more than a decade.

Under the consortium’s plans, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), the holding company headed by American private equity billionaires Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, would hold a controlling stake in Chelsea – although they will need to divest their minority shareholding in Crystal Palace prior to completing a deal.

Sky News

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