The British government gave the green light on Tuesday, May 24, to the takeover of the Chelsea football club, owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich since 2003, and coveted by a consortium led by an American businessman.
“Given the sanctions that we have imposed on people connected with Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be ensured by a new owner”, said Wednesday on Twitter the British minister of culture, media and sports, Nadine Dorries.
1/2 Last night the Government issued a licence that allows the sale of @ChelseaFC. Given the sanctions we placed o… https://t.co/WHf2y3lyqK
The Premier League had already approved on Tuesday the takeover of the Chelsea football club by the group led by American businessman Todd Boehly. This consortium had formulated on May 7 an offer of 4.25 billion pounds (4.97 billion euros) for the takeover of the London club, owned by Roman Abramovich.
Roman Abramovich in the turmoil of war
In the turmoil after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian billionaire, targeted by sanctions from London, had put the London club up for sale on March 2, insisting that he would not demand repayment of loans taken by the club throughout his nineteen-year reign and that all profits from the operation would go to the victims of the conflict.
Since March 2, the club has been playing in the Premier League thanks to a special license that prevents it from offering new contracts to its players or recruiting new ones. This license expires on May 31st.
After a lengthy auction process involving several groups, Mr. Boehly and his investment partners were chosen by the New York investment bank Raine Group, which is overseeing the sale.
In addition to Mr. Boehly, the investor group includes Mark Walter, with whom he co-owns the Dodgers, the Los Angeles baseball franchise, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the medical equipment manufacturing company Synthes, and the American investment firm Clearlake Capital.
On Twitter, Nadine Dorries said :
“We are confident that the proceeds from the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned persons. I would like to thank everyone, especially the officials who have worked tirelessly to keep the club playing and have enabled this sale, protecting the fans and the wider football community. »
“We will now begin the process to ensure that the proceeds from the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting the victims of the war”, the government said in a statement.
Mr Abramovich had bought the Blues in 2003 for 140 million pounds. Thanks to the financial windfall of the oligarch close to the Kremlin, Chelsea, until then a second knife of English football, has turned into a major player at the national and European level, accumulating in particular five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues (2012, 2021).