Lewis Hamilton has confirmed he is involved in a Chelsea takeover bid, claiming that he only ever supported Arsenal because his sister told him to.
The seven-time world champion is part of a consortium fronted by former British Airways boss Sir Martin Broughton. He is pumping £10million into the bid, as is his friend Serena Williams.
Hamilton’s investment is a surprise because he always claimed to be an Arsenal fan and speaking ahead of Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Hamilton sought to set the record straight.
Lewis Hamilton has publicly declared his part in the consortium bidding to buy the club
Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are prepared to pledge £10million to Sir Martin Broughton’s bid to buy Chelsea
‘I have been a football fan since I was a kid,’ he said. ‘I played from four to 17 and for the school team every year. I tried out for Stevenage Borough.
‘I played football round the corner from where I lived, and I wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of colour. They all supported different teams — I switched around. One was Tottenham, one was Manchester United.
‘I then got home and my sister, Sam, punched me several times in the arm and beat me to say, ‘You have to support Arsenal’.
‘At five or six I supported Arsenal but my Uncle Terry is a big Blues fan and I have been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play.
Sir Martin Broughton would become the chairman should his consortium’s bid succeed
‘Ultimately, I am a sports fan and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world. When I heard about this opportunity, I was like ‘wow’. It would be great to be part of something like that.’ While Hamilton’s involvement is primarily a business matter, he also wants to push ‘diversity and inclusion’ in the sport.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel welcomed the stars’ interest, saying: ‘I’m an admirer of them both as fantastic sports personalities. They take responsibility as humans, for which they have my respect.’
Asked about Hamilton’s previous leanings, Tuchel referenced his team’s 4-2 defeat by Arsenal earlier this week and smiled: ‘That might explain something regarding two days ago.’
Hamilton and Williams are known to be good friends with the tennis star having been a guest of the Englishman at various Formula One Grand Prixs down the years.
The seven-time Formula One champion has spoken about how their involvement with the bid came about.
Serena Williams has declared £10m to the bid alongside her friend Lewis Hamilton
‘We did speak about it, we were constantly in touch,’ he said.
‘She asked me my thoughts and I told her I’ll be a part of it, and she decided to join.
‘We were contacted and Sir Martin spoke to me on the phone, explaining his and his team’s goals if they were to win the bid – which was incredibly exciting and very much aligned with my values.’
Hamilton went on to add how his career could have followed a very different path, having trialled for his local side Stevenage Borough before opting for racing.
‘When I was younger I was trying to be the best player I could be and play for a team. I tried out for Stevenage Borough when I was younger but I ended up following the racing side,’ he said.
Joshua Harris (left) and David Blitzer (right) are providing most of the financial backing
‘I could have only dreamed of being an integral part of a team so for me that is the most exciting thing.’
Hamilton, who has grown to be one of sport’s most prominent campaigners on diversity and race in recent years, said one of the aims of the consortium was to ‘continue’ some of the work done by the previous regime and grow the ‘impact and engagement in the community’ even further.
‘Our goal is to continue some of the work they have already done and have even more of an impact and engage with the community,’ he said.
Meanwhile, he was pressed on what his £10m investment might bring him – particularly in the context of Chelsea’s £145.6m loss after tax in recent financial results.
Hamilton, a seven-time F1 champion, has been open in the past about supporting Arsenal
‘Naturally, it is never the idea of an investment to lose money but firstly it is to be a part of something, to manage this team moving forward and improve the financial situation and slowly decrease those losses and turn it into a profit-making organisation,’ he said.
He added: ‘That is going to take a lot of work and there are lots of moving parts. I don’t have the strategy for that at the moment.
‘We have not won the bid so I am sure that will all come afterwards. But the consortium is a consortium of lifetime Chelsea fans and others that have come later to it like myself.’