IMOLA: Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said Friday that being part of a consortium bidding to take over English Premier League club Chelsea was too great an opportunity to pass by.
Hamilton, along with American tennis star Serena Williams, could each invest up to EUR 10 million, according to Sky News, as part of a consortium led by former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton.
"Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and most successful. When I heard about this opportunity, I was like wow, this is this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something so great," said Hamilton, who professed a life-long love of football, "the biggest sport in the world".
Hamilton, speaking ahead of Sunday's Imola Grand Prix, added that from the age of five or six he had been a supporter of Chelsea's bitter city rivals Arsenal. "But my Uncle Terry is a big Blues fan so I've been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play," he said.
Hamilton said that he had been contacted by Broughton after the announced sale of the European champions by Russian owner Roman Abramovich. "Martin took time to speak to me on the phone and explained his and his team's goals if they were to win the bid, which was incredibly exciting, and it was very much aligned with my values," said Hamilton.
Russian billionaire Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and was subsequently targeted by UK sanctions. Chelsea have been granted a special government licence to continue operating, though under strict terms.
Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea's sale, but had already vowed to write off the club's EUR 1.5 billion (USD 2 billion) debt.
Aside from Broughton's candidacy, which also has World Athletics president Sebastian Coe -- an avid Chelsea fan -- on board, two other bids have been registered, headed up by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, and Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team.