The British government has authorized the sale of Chelsea to a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, ending Roman Abramovich’s 19-year control of the Premier League team.
The government needed to ensure that Abramovich, who was sanctioned following the invasion of Ukraine for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, would not benefit from the forced sale of the club that his investment made into one of the most successful in European football.
The reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions and 2021 European champions will be sold for the biggest amount ever paid for a sports club, with Premier League consent already given on Tuesday.
Since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March, Chelsea has been functioning under a government license, which ends on May 31.
“Given the sanctions, we imposed on people associated with Putin and the murderous invasion of Ukraine, the club’s long-term existence can only be ensured with a new owner,” British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries stated. “We are certain that the sale revenues will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned people.”
There were weeks of negotiations between Chelsea and the government to get the promise that Abramovich would not profit financially. The profits of the transaction will be placed in a frozen account before being donated to charity.
“We will now begin the process of ensuring that the revenues of the sale are utilized for humanitarian objectives in Ukraine, such as assisting conflict victims.” “In a statement, the British government stated, “The actions taken today will ensure the continuation of this vital cultural treasure while also protecting fans and the broader football community.”
Delays in clearing the sale were focused on the destiny of Abramovich’s 1.6 billion pounds ($2 billion) loan to Chelsea since 2003, which gave financing to construct a men’s side that won 21 championships under his ownership. Government guarantees were required from Abramovich, who has not denounced Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, regarding the cancellation of debts associated with firms he controls.
Since the club authorized the sale to the partnership that includes Dodgers majority owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, and funds from private equity company Clearlake Capital, Boehly has already been attending Chelsea games.
The selling process was heavily disputed, with four companies in the final running, until Boehly’s group was picked on May 7 after pledging 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) in investment in the club.
Chelsea supporters have become used to excessive spending under Abramovich, with the club spending more than $1 billion on players.
The fines have limited Chelsea’s ability to sell match tickets and commit to new player expenditure, but the new owner is now prepared to contribute money to manager Thomas Tuchel in order to enhance the team.
Despite the off-field upheaval, Chelsea will compete in the Champions League next season after finishing third in the Premier League on Sunday. The women’s team won the league and cup double, thanks to Abramovich’s funding.
When Abramovich acquired Chelsea in 2003, the team had only won the men’s title once, in 1955. The team won the Premier League two years later, thanks to pricey additions, and has acquired four more players since then, the most recently in 2017.
Stamford Bridge needs investment. Chelsea is the smallest and most antiquated stadium among the Premier League’s most successful teams, with Abramovich putting plans for a redevelopment of the 41,000-capacity building on hold in 2018 as British-Russian political tensions escalated.
Chelsea’s $3.1 billion price tag exceeds the $2.3 billion paid for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in 2018.
Boehly has a minority investment in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, in addition to the Dodgers.