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Ricketts family defend diversity record after fan backlash against Chelsea bid

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Chicago Cubs owners, the Ricketts family, who are among many bidders hoping to buy Premier League club Chelsea, said “diversity is at the heart of our values” after a fan backlash over previous racist remarks.

The reaction was in response to leaked emails from 2019 in which US businessman Joe Ricketts described Muslims as his “enemy”. Sources close to the deal told Reuters Joe had nothing to do with Chelsea’s offer, with his son Tom leading the way.

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There was a #notoRicketts social media campaign, with Chelsea’s first black player, Paul Canoville, demanding that the club turn down the offer from the Ricketts consortium. Chelsea are in consultation with US bank Raine Group to establish a shortlist of viable bidders.

“Our family rejects all forms of hate in the strongest terms possible,” the Ricketts family told Reuters in a statement. “Racism and Islamophobia have no place in our society.

“We have developed deep and lasting partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of color.

“Respect for diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our family values. If we are successful in our bid for Chelsea, we are committing to the club and supporters to actively promote these values.”

The family formed a consortium with Citadel founder and British businessman Ken Griffin. Tom Ricketts has previously spoken to Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands.

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A delegation representing the Ricketts family is due to travel to London this week to meet with representatives of fan groups, the Chelsea Pitch Owners and the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, about their concerns.

There is no guarantee that the Ricketts family will be on the shortlist to take Chelsea out of Roman Abramovoch’s hands, with Raine yet to decide. Sources familiar with the deal said a shortlist of three was being planned.

Chelsea were originally put up for sale by Abramovich after Russia invaded Ukraine before sanctions were imposed on the billionaire oligarch by the British government, effectively giving him control of the club.