Sports

Who is Stephen Pagliuca? Boston Celtics and Atalanta co-owner on Chelsea shortlist


Stephen Pagliuca, who is co-owner of basketball team Boston Celtics and Serie A side Atalanta, is down to the final four in the shortlist to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich

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The race to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich has been whittled down to four bids – and one name on the shortlist is less well known than the others.

Since Abramovich announced his intention to sell the club he has owned since 2003 back on March 2, there have been numerous names linked to Chelsea.

American Todd Boehly and Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Coe, whose bid is funded by Crystal Palace co-owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris, and the Chicago Cub-owning Ricketts family are all understood to be on the shortlist.

Raine Group, the American merchant bank overseeing the bidding process for the club, has dismissed offers from property developer Nick Candy, US pharmaceutical billionaire Woody Johnson, investment firm Centricus and the Saudi Media Group, among others. Until very recently, the name Stephen Pagliuca had not been mentioned in reports on the bidding process.

Now he is among the final four, with The Athletic reporting he is ‘thought to be in with a real chance’ of prevailing. So who is Pagliuca and what are his motivations for trying to buy Chelsea?

Pagliuca is a private equity executive who co-chairs Bain Capital, a firm which has £117billion ($155bn) capital under management. The 67-year-old, who is on the board of directors at Burger King, has a history of investing in sport, having bought NBA franchise the Boston Celtics in 2003. Sky News says it is unclear at this stage whether he is bidding alone for Chelsea, or in conjunction with other partners.

The Celtics have won one NBA championship since Pagliuca took over 19 years ago, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 to claim their first trophy since 1986. Ironically, the LA Lakers are part-owned by Boehly , who is now going up against Pagliuca in the bidding for Chelsea.







Stephen Pagliuca (right) bought the Boston Celtics in 2003
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Image:

Nancy Lane/Getty Images)

Pagliuca, who has a personal wealth around £3bn, according to the Daily Mail , also has a 55 per cent stake in Serie A side Atalanta. He only became involved with Atalanta in February. He would have to dilute his majority stake in the Italian club if he were to be successful with Chelsea, due to potential conflicts of interest arising in European competitions like the Champions League.

Pagliuca was involved in Boston’s failed bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, but has been looking to move into the European market for some time.

“I’ve been thinking about investing in a Serie A team for many years,” Pagliuca told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this month. “The Atalanta model is winning because it has a strong base and a sports culture. We know that we are the custodians of the team, which belongs to the fans as to ownership. We were looking for this and from that evening we started talking.

“My family came to America in the 20s from a small mountain village in Basilicata, Muro Lucano. Bergano also has a strong bond with mountains, so I’ll feel at home. Joking apart, the Celtics are linked to Boston in the same way that Bergamo are linked to Atalanta.”

Pagliuca became involved with Atalanta after meeting the club’s owner Antonio Percassi. He took a 55 per cent stake in February, but has vowed to leave the day-to-day running of the club to the 68-year-old Italian.

“The Percassi are amazing leaders, so the project won’t change much,” Pagliuca added. “Things must keep going as they’ve done so far. So we must build a winning team, develop talents and the youth sector. We can help the Atalanta brand to grow worldwide, broadening the fan base.”

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