Jim Ratcliffe's bid to buy Chelsea has been rejected by the bank overseeing the sale – but Britain’s richest man is not accepting defeat in his Stamford Bridge quest.
Ineos director Tom Crotty revealed Raine Group handed Ratcliffe a "rapid rejection" on his last-minute £4.25billion bid for Chelsea.
Petrochemicals boss Ratcliffe will continue to press to win the race to take the Chelsea reins from Roman Abramovich, though, despite that setback.
"We had a rapid rejection by Raine," Crotty said. "But we are still pushing as we believe we are a good bidder who would be good for the long-term future of the club."
Ratcliffe tabled a last-ditch bid to buy Chelsea on Friday, just as New York merchant bank Raine Group was preparing to confirm Todd Boehly’s consortium as the preferred bidder.
Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly’s bid has received that preferred bidder status, with the Eldridge Industries chief now forging ahead to try to complete a deal to buy the Blues.
Ratcliffe’s rejection from Raine has not deterred the 69-year-old from continuing to progress his candidacy to buy the west London club, however.
Ratcliffe's rejection from Raine has not deterred the 69-year-old from continuing to progress his candidacy to buy the west London club, however.
"My message to Raine is don’t discount our offer," Ratcliffe told the BBC.
"We are British and have great intentions for Chelsea. If I was Raine I wouldn’t close any door."
Boehly’s bid has edged ahead of consortiums headed by Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca.
Raine could yet turn to either Broughton or Pagliuca should any issues arise with Boehly progressing the purchase.
Sebastian Coe has partnered with Broughton’s bid for Chelsea, with the World Athletics president adding political and sporting administrative clout to the ex-British Airways chief executive’s consortium.
While Coe conceded Boehly’s bid now has the edge, he insisted he remained committed to Broughton’s consortium should circumstances change.
"It’s not the clearest of processes because all we know at the moment is that one bid which has gone into an exclusive negotiation," Coe told LBC.
"But there are other bids out there, I’m still very excited about the bid we put together with Martin."
Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on 2 March 2 due to Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street chiefs claiming to have proven his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich pledged to write off his £1.5billion loan to Chelsea on announcing the sale.
The Government is now thought to have raised fears over Abramovich’s plans to write off Chelsea’s debt, although Abramovich is understood to expect that be frozen when the sale is carried out.
Chelsea’s sale has a deadline of 31 May, when the Government’s temporary licence for the Blues expires.
Chelsea fan Coe called upon a swift resolution whoever the eventual buyer to allow the Blues to resume normal business.
"I subscribe to the view that you can't have this going on indefinitely," said Coe.
"There are all sorts of things that are at play here and particularly the performance of a team. I know this as well as anybody – uncertainty in sport, uncertainty in performance, is a real challenge.
"You’ve got coaches sitting there wondering what is happening, players who are looking over their shoulders. It is really important this gets resolved.
"But it needs to be done carefully and properly and actually you can’t hurry this if there are still questions about ownership and bids, it’s inevitable."