Roman Abramovich and Chelsea have found a buyer: a group led by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, has made a whopping £4.25 billion (€4.97 billion) bid to take over the biggest Blues deal ever was issued for a sports club.
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“Chelsea Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for a new group of owners led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjoerg Wyss to acquire the club,” Chelsea FC said in a statement released late became the night from Friday to Saturday.
This is the end of an era that began in 2003 with the arrival at the helm of Roman Abramovich, who had bought the ‘Blues’ for £140million. Thanks to the financial manna of the Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin, Chelsea, until then a second knife of English football, suddenly transformed into a major player at national and European level, notably collecting five Premier League titles and two Champions League (2012, 2021).
In the turmoil following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian billionaire, who was targeted by London sanctions, put the London club up for sale on March 2, insisting he would not receive any repayment of the club’s reign during his 19th year that all proceeds from the operation would benefit the victims of the war.
After a lengthy bidding process involving multiple groups, Mr. Boehly and his investor partners were selected by New York bank Raine Group to oversee the sale.
“The sale is expected to close by the end of May, subject to obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals,” Chelsea said in its statement.
In addition to Mr. Boehly, the group of investors consists of Mark Walter, with him co-owners of the Dodgers, the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the medical device manufacturer Synthes, and the American investment company Clearlake Kapital.
“Of the total investment that will be made, £2.5bn (€2.92bn) will be earmarked for the purchase of the club’s shares and this sum will be deposited in a UK bank account which will be frozen with the intention of receiving 100% of it donate to charity, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” the club said.
“The UK government’s green light is required for these funds to be transferred from the frozen bank account,” he added.
The new owners have also pledged to invest a further £1.75 billion (€2.04 billion) on behalf of the club, the statement read.
The formalization of the Chelsea takeover is a breath of fresh air for the England team as the operation began to drag on. Indeed, since their sale on March 2, the “Blues” have continued to develop in the Premier League thanks to a special license that prevents the renewal of existing contracts and the recruitment of players. A license expired on 31.
“It’s not a relief, but it gives us a perspective now that an agreement has been reached,” commented coach Thomas Tuchel on the Sky Sports microphone before the start of the match on the 36th day of the Premier League against Wolverhampton.
“We hope that this will take its course as soon as possible so that we can act without sanctions. So that’s good news,” he added.
However, that was not enough to pull Chelsea out of the current sporting trough. After announcing his sale, Chelea had won 11 of the next 12 games, but since mid-March he has picked up just 7 points from 8 league games and was eliminated in the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid, of which he is the defending champion.
He also came on in injury time (2-2) on Saturday, when he led 2-0 at home against Wolverhampton eleven minutes from the end of regulation time.
Third place in the Premier League three days before the end of the championship does not guarantee the club end up in the top quartet that will see them into the C1 next season.