Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are committing millions of pounds to one of the bids vying to become the new owners of Chelsea reports in British media said.
Sky News reported the full line-up of investors backing the takeover offer for the club being spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton, the former Liverpool and British Airways chairman – the most prominent of whom are the seven-times Formula 1 world champion and the former women’s world tennis No 1.
Sources close to the group said that Hamilton and Williams – the highest-profile members of any of the three remaining consortia – had pledged an estimated £10m each to the bid.
Both Hamilton, who will compete for Mercedes at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this weekend, and Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slams including seven Wimbledon titles, have become established investors in their own right in recent years.
Serena Ventures, the tennis star’s venture capital fund, this week announced an investment in Opensponsorship, a British-based sports technology start-up, while Hamilton has backed a range of early-stage companies such as Zapp, the London-based rapid grocery delivery app.
Their involvement in the Chelsea auction is unexpected – not least because Hamilton is an Arsenal fan.
Hamilton and Williams have, however, been in talks with the group spearheaded by Broughton for several weeks.
It was unclear on Thursday morning which corporate entities would be used by the pair to invest in the Blues.
The consortium is uniquely British-led among the trio of shortlisted bidders and features another UK sporting icon in the form of Sebastian Coe among its backers.
A source close to the group said the addition of Hamilton and Williams was a serious investment decision because of their experience at building global sports brands.
They also pointed out that the involvement of the pair was not the first time famous athletes had backed a Premier League club – NBA star LeBron James has been a small shareholder in Liverpool for more than a decade.