Real battle begins as four bidders are in the frame to buy Chelsea after Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca was named on the shortlist.
Pagliuca was a surprise addition to the shortlist complied by Raine Group, the US bank appointed by Roman Abramovich to find a buyer for the club.
The rival consortiums headed by Todd Boehly and Sir Martin Broughton remain the frontrunners, while a bid by the Ricketts family has been shortlisted despite criticism from Chelsea fans over Islamophobic comments made by Joe Ricketts.
The Broughton group, which is supported by Lord Coe, is said to be funded by Crystal Palace co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer.
The BBC has reported that the shortlist includes a mystery fifth bidder who has not made their interest publicly known.
But the sale of Chelsea appears to have come down to a four-way battle after Pagliuca emerged as a surprise late contender.
Pagliuca co-chairs Bain Capital, which has £118bn in assets under its management. The American also owns a 55 per cent stake in Serie A club Atalanta.
Information about the next stage will come over the weekend, with bidders granted access to the “data room” which will give them an insight into Chelsea’s full financial situation, including an up-to-the-minute wage bill.
A preferred buyer is expected to be decided upon over the next fortnight.
It is hoped a sale, which will need to be approved by the Premier League and the Government, will go through by the end of April.
The winner group is expected to pay around £2.5billion for Chelsea.