Chelsea FC have said it will be sold to US-led Boehly

Chelsea, the Premier League football team whose sales were forced after the Russian oligarch who bankrupted his success was placed under high-level sanctions, will be bought by a coalition led by Todd Boehly, a US billionaire who owns part of the Los Angeles Dodgers. , the club said on Saturday.

The £ 2.5 billion price tag, or $ 3.1 billion, will be the highest payout for a team in any game. The sale, which is one of the most unusual in the history of modern sports, still requires the approval of the British government, which imposed sanctions on the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, and restricted his property, including Chelsea, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .

In a statement posted on its website earlier on Saturday, Chelsea said the proceeds from the sale would be deposited in a closed British bank account, with the intention that all funds would eventually be used for charity, as promised by Abramovich.

In addition to the sale price, Chelsea said, the Boehly group promised to invest £ 1.75 billion in the club, some of it for much-needed stadium renovations.

The Boehly Group is backed by US investment firm Clearlake and also includes Hansjorg Wyss, a Swiss businessman, and Mark Walter, a US financier who serves as co-owner and chairman of Dodgers.

The decision took two months of turmoil for Chelsea, her fans and Abramovich, who said on March 2 that she had reluctantly agreed to leave the club, as the British government was going to impose sanctions on its wealth and business.

The sale process was accelerated as soon as the government officially banned Abramovich’s property, part of a larger set of sanctions imposed on the wealthy Russians allied with Moscow after the Ukrainian war broke out. The government has named Abramovich as a close ally of Russian president Vladimir V. Putin.

Chelsea have been in a state of turmoil since then, operating under a special license issued by the government, which comes with harsh conditions that have severely affected its business. The team currently cannot buy or sell players in the summer transfer market, nor can it sell tickets or products to its supporters. Its use has been severely restricted, affecting everything from team travel to software publishing and marketing.

Barriers, intended to ensure no cash flow for Abramovich, will be removed only after the sale is complete.

Chelsea, led by Thomas Tuchel, the German coach who managed to grab the Champions League trophy within months after taking over at Stamford Bridge last year, have endured on-field issues as they try to find their new reality. Results mixed: While Tuchel’s team is currently in third place in the Premier League, it was eliminated from the Champions League last month. Several players with expiring contracts have announced they will leave at the end of this season, and until the sale is complete, Tuchel and the club have no way to replace them.

The Boehly Group was given one week to close the deal after being selected last week as a bidder proposed by New York-based Raine Group consulting company and members of the Chelsea board.

The sale was nearing completion last week when it appeared to be suspended, after one of Britain’s richest men, Jim Ratcliffe, announced a tender that matched an offer from the Boehly coalition, after the deadline expired. On Wednesday, Ratcliffe, who emphasized his England credentials when making his offer, said Raine rejected his request but vowed to continue fighting to find a team.

Chelsea’s price equals £ 1.8 billion ($ 2.3 billion) for its London rival Arsenal, in 2018, after its American sponsor, businessman Stan Kroenke, became the sole owner of the club by buying 30 per cent of the other shares now. -approved Russian oligarch, Alisher Usmanov, for more than $ 700 million. Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal have a modern stadium and their finances have been relatively stable.

The UK Treasury will have to issue separate licenses in order for the sale to be approved, with special clauses that include the condition that no sales revenue go to Abramovich.

The buyers and Raine have discussed the possibility of a refund for the victims of the war in Ukraine, an idea that Abramovich came up with when he said he would pay off the huge debt owed to the club. But it is unclear how such a transfer would work.

Abramovich invested nearly $ 2 billion of his personal finances during his 19-year tenure as owner, where he compensated a loss of approximately $ 1 million a week when he hired some of the best players in the world. The strategy was expensive but successful: Chelsea enjoyed the most successful period in its history, becoming the winner of a series of domestic and international awards and winning five Premier League titles and two European Cups.

If Boehly’s deal to buy the team is completed with the required approval from the government and the Premier League, which should also provide its blessings on sales, its team will have to find a way to maintain that success while retaining the loss associated with stadium success and also providing hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate the old Chelsea stadium of Stamford Bridge, which has the capacity to accommodate more than 40,000 people is much smaller than the stadiums that play the major Premier League teams.

The sale, according to its origins, has been a dramatic process, fueled by Joe Ravitch, a Russian-speaking banker and co-founder of New York-based Raine. The announcement that Chelsea was on sale attracted a lot of people around the world, attracting many people with successful records and distinguishing people who seemed to use public interest to buy Chelsea as a way to advertise their news in the media. .

Ravitch said a few things publicly, though he was shocked – and yet unconfirmed claims – that Chelsea and other Premier League teams could be worth more than $ 10 billion within five years.

The process, while quick to grab the size of Chelsea, also sparked ridicule from some people as the deadline for final offers was repeatedly increased to get a higher price even if the seller, Abramovich, did not expect to be paid. The public nature of the sale also meant an investigation of the kind that caused embarrassment to buyers.

A joint offer involving the Ricketts family, Chicago Cub owners, and hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, struggled to overcome allegations of racism after anti-Islamic emails sent by the family’s father, Joe Ricketts, resurfaced in 2019. Efforts to separate the bid from Ricketts and statements emphasizing family opposition to racism failed to convince some Chelsea supporters, and Ricketts withdrew from the process last month, leaving out the last three applicants.

All three teams – one led by Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and the other sponsored by another basketball team ownership team, Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer – made their final impetus, traveling to London last week to meet Chelsea. board. They set their sights on how to ensure Chelsea will remain a key force in domestic and European football; how her women’s team can continue her current success; and how they planned to solve the Chelsea Stadium riddle.

Under an agreement signed by Abramovich’s predecessor Ken Bates, Chelsea will not be able to move to another stadium, leaving the only option for the expensive Stamford Bridge construction, which under Abramovich’s 2018 plan would cost more than $ 1 billion.

In entering the Premier League, the Boehly group would join a series of American investors who have been drawn to the richest and most famous football league in the world. Premier League earnings and poor achievement of its closest competitors. But maintaining a competitive edge will not come easily – or cheaply – with the current top team, Manchester City, fueled by the seemingly endless money supply of the United Arab Emirates and with Newcastle recently acquired by Saudi Arabia.

Without such strong financial guidelines that are in paid games in America and promise to meet the expectations of a generation of Chelsea fans who are now accustomed to the kind of success brought and bought by Abramovich, a chance to lose a lot. quick money is a real possibility.

Chelsea’s recent accounts show that Abramovich suffered a loss of nearly $ 2 billion and made the Blues a big club, thus boosting the player trade market when he did so. The amount of money Abramovich paid to bring top talent to West London had never been seen before, and it set the stage for inflation that has only been extended by the arrival of state-owned clubs in the UK and beyond.

A Chelsea statement said it hopes to complete the sale by the end of May “according to all regulatory approvals” – the right time to open the summer registration window.

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