Laura Ricketts has insisted it’s ‘her life’s work to fight discrimination’ after acknowledging that the family’s plan to buy Chelsea won’t win over all the fans ‘right away’ amid continued opposition to their bid for the club.
The Ricketts family investment group, which owns the Chicago Cubs and is run by Joe Ricketts’ children Tom, Todd and Laura, faced a backlash from some Chelsea fans after it emerged that Joe Ricketts was accused of Islamophobia three years ago.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust raised concerns about the Ricketts family on diversity grounds as around 100 supporters demonstrated outside Stamford Bridge ahead of Saturday’s 4-1 home loss to Brentford.
Prominent members of the bid, including Laura and main backer Ken Griffin, traveled to London this week to meet with various fan groups to allay their fears and witnessed Chelsea Women’s 5-0 win over Reading Women at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.
The Ricketts family has owned the Chicago Cubs franchise since 2009, when they purchased the team along with a share of Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $845 million. Last year, Forbes estimated the franchise’s worth at $3.36 billion after the family renovated Wrigley Field and created a regional sports network, Marquee.
In a statement to ESPN on Thursday, Laura Ricketts, who came out as gay in the 1990s, said: “We’re not going to be able to persuade all the fans straight away that we’ll be good stewards of Chelsea – we ‘ We will have to show them with meaningful action if we are successful in our bid. But I can assure all Chelsea fans that it has been my life’s work to fight discrimination and bigotry of all kinds.
“Coming out as an LGBTQ+ woman has influenced my perspective and sensitivity to diversity and inclusion. I can’t know what it’s like to put myself in another person’s shoes, but I can begin to understand and be aware of their different experience.
“And that’s a gift. In the position I’m in, I feel responsible to be a defender. For me, being a defender means talking, and also listening.”
The Ricketts family are one of four bids vying for patronage with New York-based investment bank Raine Group expected to confirm a preferred bidder shortly after their April 11 deadline.
Public opposition to their proposal is the biggest headache for the Ricketts family, with CSE saying last week that 77% of its members do not support their candidacy and 72% are not convinced they would lead an inclusive club. and prosper.
Laura Ricketts has confirmed meetings with Chelsea Price’s Tracy Brown and Chelsea Women Supporters Group’s Kerrie Evans.
“Obviously I cannot comment on the discussions we had with Chelsea officials as this must remain confidential,” she continued in the statement. “But I can say that we had very instructive and pleasant encounters with groups of passionate fans.
“We also caught up with Sanjay Bhandari, the president of Kick It Out, and it was wonderful to hear about all the work he does. We admire their approach and would love to introduce them to Major League Baseball.
“Tracy Brown reminded me of many people I know and worked with in Chicago – leaders who are committed to their communities.
“She loves Chelsea and wants herself and her community to be recognized and have a voice. We have agreed to keep in touch, starting with a Zoom next week with me and the founder of Out at Wrigley, an annual event LGBTQ+ that the Cubs have hosted at Wrigley Field since 2001.”
Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly faces a rival offer and was at Stamford Bridge for Wednesday’s 3-1 home loss to Real Madrid in the League quarter-final first leg champions Chelsea.
Sources have told ESPN he is due to hold meetings with key figures at the club within the next 24 hours to help fine-tune their offer ahead of Monday’s deadline.
The other deals, one led by British businessman Sir Martin Broughton and another involving Boston Celtics boss Steve Pagliuca, are expected to be given similar opportunities to help keep the integrity of the bidding process.