Todd Boehly’s consortium has signed an agreement to purchase Chelsea from Roman Abramovich.
The proposed deal has to be approved by the UK government and the Premier League before it can be completed.
The group headed by the LA Dodgers part-owner – which includes backing from Clearlake Capital, a US investment firm – beat off late competition from £4.25billion bidder Sir Jim Ratcliffe and other consortiums led by Stephen Pagliuca and Sir Martin Broughton to win the battle to become the Premier League club’s new owners.
Chelsea had until May 31 to find a new bidder as the UK government’s licence for the club to operate ran out on that date. With the Raine Group – hired by Abramovich to oversee the sale of the club – having chosen its preferred bidder, the government can issue a separate licence to allow the Premier League club to be sold.
The Premier League is meeting on June 8 to constitute the new season, by which time Chelsea would need to have a licence to be part of the next campaign.
Sky Sports News reported in April that Boehly’s consortium was chosen as the preferred group to buy Chelsea, despite a late £4.25bn bid from Britain’s richest man Ratcliffe for the west London club – though that offer was rejected out of hand.
What is the Boehly bid and who is part of it?
- Mr Boehly’s bid would see voting rights shared equally between him and Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm.
- Clearlake, which has no direct ownership pedigree in major sports assets, would own a majority of the shares in Chelsea.
- The group is being advised by Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw, where the former chancellor – and Chelsea fan – George Osborne, now works as a partner.
The Pagliuca consortium was told at the end of last month that it was out of the running to become the Raine Group’s preferred bidder. However, the Broughton consortium – led by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Sir Martin, and including the billionaire Crystal Palace shareholders Dave Blitzer and Josh Harris – was still in the race.
Lewis Hamilton was one of the investors backing Broughton’s attempt to acquire Chelsea and is understood to have committed £10m to the bid. Tennis legend Serena Williams was also among the backers of the Broughton consortium.
A group led by the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, and the Citadel hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, with the US investment bank Lazard was in the final four but withdrew its offer in March. The plans fell apart due to members of the consortium being unable to agree on the final make-up of the deal.
It is expected that Chelsea will have new owners by the end of this month – nearly three months after Russian owner Abramovich, who has been at the Stamford Bridge helm for 19 years, first put the club up for sale on March 2.
The 55-year-old was sanctioned by the UK government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven links between the Russian-Israeli billionaire and Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich will not ask for Chelsea loan to be repaid
This week, departing Chelsea owner Abramovich denied he wants his £1.5billion loan to the Blues repaid and has committed to giving proceeds from the sale of the club to charity.
The Russian owner said he would not be asking for his loans to Chelsea to be repaid and that proceeds from the sale of the club would go to a charitable foundation for “all the victims of the war in Ukraine”.
After reports the oligarch was looking to recoup the money he loaned the club, the 55-year-old has reiterated his commitment to giving money from the sale to charitable organisations.
In a statement released by Abramovich and Chelsea on Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the Russian said: “Firstly, Mr Abramovich’s intentions in relation to gifting the proceeds from the Chelsea sale to charity have not changed.
“Since the initial announcement, Mr Abramovich’s team has identified senior representatives from UN bodies and large global charitable organizations who have been tasked with forming a Foundation and setting out a plan for its activities. The lead independent expert has had conversations with Government representatives presenting the structure and initial plans.
“Mr Abramovich has not been involved in this work and it has been managed independently by experts with years of experience working in humanitarian organizations.
“Secondly, Mr Abramovich has not asked for any loan to be repaid to him – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr Abramovich increased the price of the Club last minute. As part of Mr Abramovich’s objective to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he has however encouraged each bidder throughout this process to commit investing in the Club – including in the Academy, Women’s team, necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of Chelsea Foundation.”
The UK government will not allow the sale to go through unless it is completely certain Abramovich will not receive any of the proceeds.
The spokesperson added in the statement: “Following sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since announcing that the Club would be sold, the loan has also become subject to EU sanctions, requiring additional approvals.
“That means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by authorities. These funds are still earmarked for the Foundation. The Government are aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.
“To be clear, Mr Abramovich has no access or control of these funds and will not have any access or control of these funds following the sale. Despite the changing circumstances since his initial announcement – he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes.”