Chelsea’s owners strike deal to acquire RC Strasbourg

The vision for the redeveloped Stade de la Meinau

Featured image credit: Populous

BlueCo, the US consortium which purchased Chelsea last year, has agreed a takeover deal for French Ligue 1 football team Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace, kick-starting its pursuit of a multi-club model.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but AFP said BlueCo has acquired almost all of Racing’s shares for what French media reports state amounts to a fee of €75m (£64.1m/$81.5m).

Racing, which finished 15th in Ligue 1 last season, is currently in the midst of a significant stadium redevelopment project. The club last month officially launched the redevelopment project for its Stade de la Meinau, with the cost of the venture having increased significantly.

The project, now worth a total of €160m excluding tax, is being co-financed by the Eurométropole de Strasbourg (up to €75.8m), Région Grand-Est (up to €37.5m), the City of Strasbourg (up to €18.8m), Collectivité Européenne d’Alsace (up to €18.8m) and RC Strasbourg (up to €9.1m). In addition, Racing will also finance the development of commercial spaces for an amount of €14m.

Work was due to begin this month, with the extension of the South Stand. It will then continue with the restructuring of the South and West Stands and the development of a Fan Zone (from summer 2024 to summer 2025) and the restructuring of the North and East Stands and the end of the development of the Fan Zone (from the summer of 2025 to the end of 2025). Completion of the East Stand, plus the laying of a new pitch from the start of 2026 will see completion targeted for the summer of that year.

The redevelopment will increase capacity from the current 26,000 to 32,000. The project has been driven by Racing president Marc Keller, who is set to remain in position, supported by his current management team, should the BlueCo takeover conclude.

“This is an important day for Racing,” Keller said yesterday (Thursday). “It’s something my shareholder friends and I have been thinking about for the past two years. We’ve built a club that’s healthy at every level and well managed.

“Although there was no financial urgency, we were aware that we had reached the ceiling of our model, and if we wanted to continue driving Racing forward and projecting it into a new dimension, we necessarily needed to be accompanied by a solid structure capable of supporting our development and our ambition.

“I am therefore delighted of the potential to welcome a new strategic investor, with whom we would accelerate the club’s ambition to build the Racing of tomorrow.”

Keller, a former France international and then club director, became Racing’s president in June 2012, when the club was in danger of going into liquidation for the second year running. He succeeded in taking the club from CFA, the fifth tier of the domestic game, to Ligue 1 in just five years, where Racing is about to embark on its seventh consecutive season.

Keller added: “The aim is to enable Racing to be even more ambitious and competitive in a football world that has changed considerably, particularly with the massive arrival of foreign investors in many French clubs and the evolution of Ligue 1 from 20 to 18 clubs. 

“The arrival of the consortium should enable us to take this step forward. It’s a question of putting in place the conditions for a new ambition, moving forward with continuity, building on the foundations that have made us successful. I am proud, after 11 years of hard work with all those who have contributed to its success, to enable the club to further its ambition, with responsibility. We’re doing it for our fans, for our partners, for our town and our region.”

The consortium led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed its acquisition of Chelsea in May 2022, and has been exploring forming a multi-club system ever since. Girondins de Bordeaux, now in Ligue 2, was also said to have been considered as an investment option before yesterday’s announcement.

The two parties said BlueCo plans to make an “active contribution” to the development of the model implemented by Keller. First, financially, by providing capital that will enable investment in the men’s and women’s first teams, the academy and across the club. It also plans to provide Racing access to “broad resources and collaboration”. Racing’s teams would be able to exchange advice and expertise with Chelsea and the other teams which the owners are involved with.

BlueCo said: “It is an honour for us to be part of this historic club. We are committed to preserving the heritage of Racing and are focused on working closely with Marc and his management team to continue the excellent work they have been doing.

“This strategic investment would further our presence in European football, alongside our ownership of Chelsea. We believe it would create huge opportunities to share knowledge and expertise.”

The proposed transaction is subject to a consultation process with the relevant employee representative bodies. In accordance with Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) regulations, the project has been presented to the Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion (DNCG), French football’s financial regulator, whose assessment is expected in the coming weeks.