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Formula 1

Why Hamilton is trying to become a Chelsea FC co-owner

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
5 min read

Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has explained his interest in being a co-owner of Chelsea Football Club, which he says taps into his lifelong love of the sport.

Chelsea has been owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich since 2003 but he put the Premier League club up for sale in March this year amid the fallout from Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

The club was subsequently seized by the UK government as part of its sanctions against Abramovich, who is accused of being close to Putin.

It was revealed this weekend that Hamilton has joined a consortium led by British businessman Martin Broughton, one of three groups still in contention to buy the club – the others being a consortium led by the owner of MLB club Los Angeles Dodgers Todd Boehly and a bid headlined by Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of NBA franchise the Boston Celtics and Italian football club Atalanta.

One of the reasons Hamilton’s role is surprising is that he is a fan of Chelsea’s London rival Arsenal but Hamilton said he has a long-standing family link to the Blues as well.

“I’ve been a football fan since I was kid, played from the age of four to 17,” said Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1

“I was in teams every year, played in the school team every year, been to numerous games.

“When I was young, around the corner from where I lived, I used to play football with all the kids.

“A couple of my close friends at the time, I would really want it to fit in, I was always trying to fit in and one was a Tottenham fan, one was Man U [Manchester United].

“I remember switching between these teams when I was younger and my sister punching me several times in the arm saying ‘you have to support Arsenal’! So then I became a supporter of Arsenal.

“But my uncle Terry is a big Blues fan. I’ve been to so many games with him to see Arsenal and Chelsea play.

“Ultimately, I’m a sporting fan. It’s the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and most successful.

“When I heard about this opportunity I was like, ‘wow, this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something so great’.”

Chelsea logo on Sauber F1 car

He added: “As a kid, I remember collecting all the stickers – I don’t know if you remember when you go down to the store and get those books and you had to trade cards, I remember filling all those up as a kid and trading them for pennies, trading for sweets with other kids for the most valuable cards!

“And when I was younger I was trying to be the best player I could, trying to
actually play for a team. I was trying to try out for Stevenage.

“I ended up following racing. I could only have dreamed of being an actual integral part of a team, so that’s for me the most exciting thing.”

While Hamilton has an obvious personal interest in the potential Chelsea ownership, it is primarily a business decision and a rare opportunity to get involved in one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Having been pitched the business plan by Broughton himself over the phone, Hamilton said the goal is to “slowly decrease losses and turn it into a profit-making organisation” as well as continue to compete as one of English football’s top sides domestically and in Europe.

But it also ties in with other objectives, particularly in diversity and inclusion – something Hamilton has been at the forefront of in F1, but also in collaborations with his employer Mercedes and fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger.

“Firstly, we are trying to acquire a team and move it forward,” said Hamilton.

“This is a team that is all about the community. That’s what really makes a football team, it’s the people in and around it.

“They’ve been quite leading in their work in D&I [diversity and inclusion] and becoming more diverse and progressive.

“So, it’s not that we associate ourselves with previous owners. Our goal is to continue some of the work that they’ve already done and have even more of an impact and engage more with the community.”

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1

Hamilton is involved in various non-F1 initiatives, both commercial and charitable, and has often talked about a desire to set himself up to have other interests when his racing career ends.

He said the chance to be part of a bid to buy Chelsea fits in with that, especially as he is still racing and therefore any role he would have would be limited in the short-term.

“This isn’t my first business venture,” said Hamilton. “Early on I’m for sure not going to be able to be as hands-on as the others.

“We haven’t won it yet but if we do there’s lots of opportunity to get involved more over time, which is super exciting. Particularly beyond racing.

“The part we’re very aligned with is the D&I.

“You’ve seen that in that sport, there is still a lot of work to be done to be more diverse, and more inclusive.

“It’s an amazing platform to bring in and educate a lot of the amazing fans that are out there.

“And there’s some amazing talent within the team already that have really stood up against discrimination and worked very closely with the organisation to move forward.

“I think the fans of Chelsea, the community, are heavily invested in that also. So that’s important.”

The consortium Hamilton is part of includes tennis legend Serena Williams, who he is friends with.

Serena Williams tennis

“We did speak about it, we are very close so we’re constantly in touch,” said Hamilton.

“She’s a phenomenal athlete and woman. We spoke about it, she asked my thoughts on it.

“And I told her that I’d be a part of it and she was excited to join.”

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