Influential former Chelsea player Paul Canoville has thrown his weight behind Todd Boehly’s bid to buy the club.
Canoville, who has a suite named after him at Stamford Bridge, has come out in support of the Boehly consortium after holding talks with all three remaining bidders.
“This is by far the best fit for Chelsea and our fans in my view,” he wrote in a statement published on social media.
Boehly is a co-owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team and is backed by Californian private equity firm Clearlake Capital, which would hold two thirds of the Premier League club if successful.
Former British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton and Bain Capital co-chair Steve Pagliuca, who also co-owns basketball’s Boston Celtics, are fronting the rival bids.
US bank the Raine Group is handling the sale on behalf of sanctioned Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and is expected to nominate a preferred bidder in the coming days.
Canoville, Chelsea’s first black player, said Boehly’s party had impressed him the most.
“Todd delayed a flight back to the States in order to spend some time with us and then his team talked us through their plans,” he said.
“The expertise around sports marketing and how to make Chelsea the biggest sports brand in the world was impressive, as was the expertise around the stadium plans.
“What won me over entirely though, was the huge passion for social impact around community outreach and how important they saw it.
“He also touched on how important he believes that the ex-players should be more heavily involved; across the board, in all areas of the club.
“The UK-based team members are hugely experienced and passionate Chelsea fans so apart from the global sports marketing expertise of the LA Dodgers they have people who understand our club’s culture inside out.
“I think they would do a great job of taking our club to a new level on all fronts.”
Canoville said he had been concerned at the involvement of Arsenal supporting Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and tennis great Serena Williams in Broughton’s bid, as well as suggestions the group would seek to leverage cryptocurrency.
“I will always support Lewis Hamilton in everything he does in F1, he is the greatest driver ever in my opinion and as with Serena, he is a phenomenal icon for black achievement and civil rights,” Canoville added.
“With football though, I think he should stay loyal to his own team.
“When I met Michael Broughton he spoke about this concept of celebrities heading up our club’s diversity and inclusion programmes and I was not impressed. We already have a very good foundation and I feel we could indeed be working with our own celebrity fans.
“He also spoke about the ‘tokenisation’ of our fans and some kind of bitcoin technology which I must admit went over my head. Apparently, this is a commercial model for increasing the club’s revenue.”
Canoville said he found Pagliuca “extremely impressive” and “very passionate about how he would invest heavily on all fronts”.
He also praised him for winning the support of former Chelsea captain John Terry.
It is anticipated that the sale of Chelsea will take place by the end of May but until then the club is unable to renew contracts with players, make any signings or agree sponsorship deals.