Todd Boehly’s consortium have signed a deal to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich.
The proposed deal, announced by the club in a statement in the early hours of Saturday morning, must be approved by the British government and the Premier League before it can be completed. Chelsea said a deal should “be agreed at the end of May”.
The group led by the LA Dodgers co-owner – which includes backing from Clearlake Capital, a US investment firm – beat late competition from £4.25bn bidder Sir Jim Ratcliffe and other consortia 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 license allowing the club to operate expired on that date. With Raine Group – hired by Abramovich to oversee the sale of the club – having chosen their preferred bidder, the government can issue a separate license to allow the sale of the Premier League club.
The Premier League meets on June 8 to constitute the new season, by which time Chelsea should have a license to be part of the next campaign.
Chelsea said in a statement: “Of the total investment made, £2.5 billion will be applied to purchase the shares of the club and this proceeds will be deposited in a frozen UK bank account with the intention of donating 100% to charitable causes, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich.
“In addition, the proposed new owners will commit £1.75 billion of additional investment to benefit the club. This includes investment in Stamford Bridge, the Academy, the women’s team and Kingsmeadow and continued funding for the Foundation. Chelsea.”
Sky Sports News reported in April Boehly’s consortium have been chosen as the preferred group to buy Chelsea, despite a late £4.25billion bid from Britain’s richest man, Ratcliffe, for the west London club – although this offer was rejected out of hand.
What is the Boehly offer and who is part of it?
- Mr. Boehly’s bid would see the voting rights split equally between him and Clearlake Capital, a California-based private equity firm.
- Clearlake, who has no direct ownership pedigree in major sporting assets, is believed to own the majority of Chelsea shares.
- The group is advised by Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw, where former chancellor – and Chelsea fan – George Osborne now works as a partner.
The Pagliuca Consortium was told late last month that it was not in 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 billionaire Crystal Palace shareholders Dave Blitzer and Josh Harris – were still in the running.
Lewis Hamilton was one of the investors backing Broughton’s bid to acquire Chelsea and is said to have pledged £10million in the bid. Tennis legend Serena Williams was also among the backers of the Broughton Consortium.
A group led by The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, and Citadel hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, along with US investment bank Lazard, were in the final four but withdrew their offer in March. Plans fell apart as consortium members could not agree on the final composition of the deal.
Chelsea are expected to have new owners by the end of this month – almost three months after Russian owner Abramovich, who has been in charge of Stamford Bridge for 19 years, put the club up for sale for the first time on March 2.
The 55-year-old was sanctioned by the British government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven links between the Russian-Israeli billionaire and Vladimir Putin.
This week, outgoing Chelsea owner Abramovich denied wanting his £1.5bn loan to the Blues repaid and pledged to donate the proceeds from the sale of the club to charity.
The Russian owner said he would not seek repayment of his loans from Chelsea and that the 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 reiterated his pledge to donate the money from the sale to charity.
In a statement released by Abramovich and Chelsea on Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the Russian said: “Firstly, Mr Abramovich’s intentions regarding donating the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea to charity have not changed.
“Since the initial announcement, Mr. Abramovich’s team has identified senior representatives from United Nations agencies and major global charities who have been tasked with establishing a foundation and establishing a plan for its activities. he lead independent expert had conversations with government officials outlining the initial structure and plans.
“Mr. Abramovich was not involved in this work and it was managed independently by experts with years of experience in humanitarian organizations.
“Secondly, Mr. Abramovich did not request repayment of any loan – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr. Abramovich raised the price of the Club at the last minute. As part of the Mr Abramovich’s aim to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he however encouraged every bidder throughout this process to commit to investing in the Club – including the Academy, women’s team, redevelopment necessary for the stadium as well as maintaining the work of the Chelsea Foundation.”
The UK government will not allow the sale unless it is absolutely certain that Abramovich will not receive any proceeds.
The spokesperson added in the statement: “Following the sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since the announcement of the sale of the Club, the loan has also been subject to sanctions from the EU, requiring additional approvals.
“This means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by the authorities. These funds are always intended for the Foundation. The government is aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.
“To be clear, Mr. Abramovich has no access to or control over these funds and will have no access to or control over these funds after the sale. Despite the changed 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.”