Soccer-Abramovich completes Chelsea sale to Boehly-Clearlake consortium

·3 min read
FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Chelsea v Watford

LONDON (Reuters) - Roman Abramovich has completed the sale of Chelsea and related companies to an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the Premier League club said on Monday, ending a three-month process to sell the club.

The consortium, which won the bid to acquire the London side earlier this month, received approval from the Premier League and the British government last week for the sale to go ahead. A final agreement was reached on Saturday.

Russian owner Abramovich put the club up for sale in early March following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation". Sanctions on Abramovich had also complicated the sale process.

"In selling the club, Mr. Abramovich stipulated that the new owner must be a good steward of the club, the net proceeds of the sale must be donated to charity, and that he would not seek the repayment of loans made to affiliates of the club," Chelsea said in a statement.

The sale also needed the green light from the Portugal government after Abramovich became a citizen of the country last year and is also under European Union sanctions.

The Portuguese government issued a humanitarian waiver last week based on the British government's guarantee that the proceeds of the sale would not benefit Abramovich.

"The club is now no longer subject to the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, an individual who has enabled (Russian president Vladimir) Putin's brutal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine," a British government spokesperson said.

"Chelsea's long-term future is now secured and binding commitments have been received which ensure sanctioned individuals cannot financially benefit from the sale. The government retains control to ensure that this is the case."

Abramovich has denied having close ties to Putin.

'GREAT RELIEF'

British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said on Twitter https://twitter.com/HuddlestonNigel/status/1531291493079650305 that the completion of the sale would come as a "great relief" for Chelsea fans.

Chelsea had been operating under a special licence issued by the British government since Abramovich's assets were frozen in March and it was set to expire on May 31.

Chelsea said they had received more than 250 enquiries from proposed purchasers, adding that 32 confidentiality agreements had been reached with interested parties.

The club eventually received 12 credible bids which were narrowed down to four before the Boehly-Clearlake consortium was chosen as the preferred bidder. The consortium also includes Swiss business tycoon Hansjoerg Wyss and Mark Walter.

Abramovich bought the club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds ($177.21 million), with his investment resulting in the most successful era in their history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.

'WE'RE ALL IN'

The west London club said Boehly and Clearlake would share joint control and equal governance of the club. Boehly, who is part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will serve as chairman of the holding company.

"We are honoured to become the new custodians of Chelsea Football Club. We're all in -- 100% -- every minute of every match," Boehly said.

"Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud. Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the club for the long-term and build on Chelsea's remarkable history of success.

"I personally want to thank ministers and officials in the British government, and the Premier League, for all their work in making this happen."

The completion of the sale allows Chelsea to renew transfer activity and extend contracts with their players, which was prohibited as part of the sanctions imposed.

Chelsea finished third in the recently concluded Premier League season. They lost to Liverpool on penalties in the FA Cup and League Cup finals and were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Real Madrid.

($1 = 0.7900 pounds)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Editing by David Goodman/Christian Radnedge/Ken Ferris)

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