Thomas Tuchel said he was impressed by his Chelsea players’ discipline and focus as, refusing to be distracted by the club’s impending sale, they swept Middlesbrough aside to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
“My players have not surprised me but they have impressed me,” said Tuchel following the 2-0 win which came 24 hours after the deadline passed for prospective buyers to submit bids to replace the sanctioned Roman Abramovich. “The trust and team spirit was impressive. That is the culture at our club.
“No matter what we do and how much we worry we cannot change the situation so we have to find a certain way of accepting the situation and accepting what we can influence.”
The German seemed more concerned about the more junior employees at Stamford Bridge than himself and his squad. “I’m absolutely OK,” he said.
“I feel very privileged, but there are 700 or 800 people working at Chelsea and they are very worried about their position so it is my responsibility to show the right spirit and positivity in a situation we did not cause and cannot change. The players have huge talent but with it comes huge responsibility and they are doing it for the people at Chelsea.”
Tuchel professed to lack inside knowledge on the progress of the sale. “I don’t know anything about the offers,” he said. “How many serious offers there are or who they are from.”
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust earlier confirmed discussions had been held with prospective new owners as it continues to push for greater fan involvement in Chelsea’s future. The trust has set out a number of expectations of any new owner, including a “golden share”, which would essentially give supporters the right to exercise a veto over certain important decisions. In a statement it said: “The CST has played an important role over these difficult weeks. We have held positive discussions with a number of prospective bidders.”
The British property investor Nick Candy, leading a £2bn bid alongside the South Korean companies Hana Financial Group and C&P Sports Limited, has pledged to advocate for a golden share if his offer is successful, while the former British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton – leading a rival bid with Sebastian Coe – has also promised to increase the involvement of fans.
Broughton told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “[Fans] can come and get all the benefits of ownership and veto rights for free, and we’re open to discounts and investments. We’d be interested [in selling shares at a discount] if that’s what the fans want.”
Besides the bids led by Candy and Broughton, other offers are understood to have been made by the financial firm Aethel Partners, by the Ricketts family – owners of the US baseball team the Chicago Cubs – and by the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who has linked up with the LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, the British businessman Jonathan Goldstein and the Conservative peer Daniel Finkelstein.
The bidders now face a wait to learn if their bids will be progressed. Chelsea and Raine Group, the US bank handling the sale process, are expected to make a shortlist before naming a preferred bid, which will then require government approval. That process will involve proving the source of funds and where the sale proceeds go.
The Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak, meanwhile, who had expressed interest, said that his company had not filed a bid to Raine owing to a misunderstanding with his lawyers over the auction procedure. “I am very upset,” he told Reuters.