Chelsea’s future owners, the Ricketts family, are seeking to assure the club’s fans that they will fight discrimination and bigotry if they are selected to buy the club from Roman Abramovich.
Chicago Cubs owners traveled to London to discuss a deal with Blues chiefs, including chairman Bruce Buck.
Laura Ricketts, the only gay sports franchise manager in the United States, took advantage of the visit to speak with various parties involved in the club.
His aim has been to allay fears over their candidacy after criticism from Blues fans for his father’s historic racist comments.
In leaked emails in 2019, Joe Ricketts called Muslims “my enemy”, but he will have no role if their family takes over Stamford Bridge.
Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts called his father’s comments “odious” as the Major League Baseball team has strong ties to Muslim communities in the United States.
Meanwhile, Laura revealed positive encounters with LGBTQ Chelsea fan groups last week, as well as Kick It Out, after also attending Chelsea Women’s 5-0 win over Reading on Sunday.
“We’re not going to be able to persuade all the fans right away that we’ll be good stewards at Chelsea – we’re going to have to show them with meaningful action if we’re successful in our bid,” she said.
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“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 it’s a gift. In the position I find myself in, I feel a sense of responsibility to be a defender. For me, being an advocate means speaking, and also listening.
She continued: “We had a memorable few days in London, taking the opportunity to meet as many people as possible from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“Obviously I cannot comment on the discussions we had with Chelsea officials as this must remain confidential.
“But I can say we had very informative and enjoyable meetings with groups of passionate fans – particularly with Tracy Brown from Chelsea Pride and Kerrie Evans from Chelsea Women Supporters’ Group.
“We also met 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 like 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 stay in touch, starting with a zoom next week with me and the founder of Out at Wrigley, an annual LGBTQ+ event the Cubs have hosted at Wrigley Field since 2001.
“I was also delighted to attend the Chelsea women’s game this weekend and flew early to take part in the game. It was a joy to see the incredible athletic talent of the women of Chelsea and feel the incredible energy of the supporters at Kingsmeadow.
“A lot of my life’s work has been about empowering and supporting women, so seeing these young women perform at this level has been a real treat for me.
“It was also great to see all the families that were at the game. Sport has such a power to bring communities together and family is at the heart of the community.
“Some of the girls there reminded me of my 11-year-old daughter. For young girls, seeing the Chelsea Women on the pitch can be inspiring and empowering for them.
“Over the past few weeks we have also had several interesting conversations with the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust.
“I appreciate their passion for Chelsea and the important issues they have raised. I look forward to continuing the good conversations we have started.
“We all have to listen and speak up, and I feel a special responsibility because of the position I find myself in.
“When we took on responsibility for the Chicago Cubs and its legacy, we immediately realized that teams like the Cubs don’t belong to one person or organization. They belong to the fans. We are stewards – and we are accountable to the fans. That’s how we see it in Chicago – and it would be exactly the same at Chelsea.
“There is such power in sport to build community and bring diverse people together. At Cubs Charities, we have developed our own sports-based youth development program that engages youth and families in underserved communities. As President of Cubs Charities, I am proud of our work and the impact it has on so many lives.
“The Chelsea Foundation is already making a significant impact here and I hope we can help build on that.
“We strive to be champions on and off the pitch. That’s what makes Chelsea great and it’s a tradition we would honor if we became the club’s next stewards.