Chelsea FC: Probably the most spectacular club takeover in history

Hardly any quality seems to be more important to Roman Abramowitsch than loyalty. Since he bought Chelsea Football Club for around £ 150 million in the summer of 2003, supporters have been largely loyal to him and honored the Russian oligarch for his services. Sugar daddy-style, he elevated the former middle-class club up into the elite of football clubs with £ 1.6 billion in loans issued. Not even the ban on entry and trade recently imposed on Abramovich in the UK changed supporters’ often submissive attitude towards their club patron.

The British government confiscated his assets, including Chelsea FC, two months ago in retaliation for Abramovich’s apparent collaboration with Russian President Vladimir Putin. From then on, the association, which was subject to a business embargo, was only allowed to maintain emergency operations on the basis of a special permit issued no later than 31 May. In order not to endanger the continued existence of the 117-year-old club, Abramovich, 55, had to put his club shares up for sale immediately and waive both the proceeds of the sale and the repayment of his loans. Recently, speculation circulated that he would change his mind, Abramovich resolutely rejected through a spokesman on Thursday – thus paving the way for what is probably the most spectacular club takeover in sports history to date.

If the deal, signed on Friday, is ratified by the Premier League and the British government in May, Abramovich will sell Chelsea to a consortium of investors led by US billionaire Todd Boehly – for a staggering £ 2.5 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a sport. club was issued. The $ 2.3 billion (£ 1.75 billion) sale by the American football team Carolina Panthers three and a half years ago was considered the most expensive transaction of its kind to date.

Total sales volume could run up to astronomical £ 4.25 billion

Almost as a farewell gift to the always benevolent fans, Abramovich left a deal through the intermediate US commercial bank Raine Group (whose co-founder Joe Ravitch he met on the Caribbean island of St. Barths), which aims to strengthen Chelsea’s reputation. as a title candidate. In addition to the purchase price, the new club owners must therefore make £ 1.75 billion available “for the benefit of the club”, the press release reads. This increases the total volume of the transaction to astronomical 4.25 billion pounds (five billion euros). The freely available capital is likely to flow mainly into the renovation of the outdated home track at Stamford Bridge (capacity: around 40,000 spectators), after Abramovich himself stopped the billion-dollar project four years ago in retaliation for the refusal to extend his expiring investor Visa.

Implementing the construction project would mean a coup for Chelsea, because infrastructure costs are not subject to the rules of financial fair play – clubs are not allowed to spend significantly more money than they earn – and the money saved is used to strengthen the professional team around the coach. Thomas Tuchel could. Following defender Antonio Rüdiger’s impending free transfer to Real Madrid, Chelsea urgently need an equal successor for next season. Especially since two other defenders, leading César Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen, are expected to leave the club this summer.

In addition to the financial demands, Chelsea allegedly demanded a guarantee from the new owners in the selection process that they would not be able to sell majority shares in the club or pay dividends or administration fees for the next ten years. Exceeding a certain debt limit is probably not allowed either. On the island, the clauses are considered protection against a takeover of the Manchester United variety: there, the Glazer family, who own the property, pledged a large part of the purchase price of the club.

At Abramovich’s request, the profits will benefit war victims in Ukraine

Due to the sanctions imposed on Abramovich, the proceeds from club sales will initially be transferred to a frozen state-controlled bank account. According to the raw material baron, the amount is intended to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine, although the project is subject to government approval. The seemingly noble gesture contrasts with Putin’s war activities, which Abramovich has not distanced himself from to this day, be it out of old solidarity or fear of reprisals. Also in limbo is what will be done with his issued loan, which could result in huge tax payments to Chelsea if canceled. Nevertheless, the club’s future now seems to be secured – and to be in good hands with Boehly, known as a shareholder in the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Although Boehly, 48, is the face of the takeover campaign and will exercise operational control over the club in the future, investment firm Clearlake Capital said its co-founders came in contact with Boehly through another tender process earlier this year. to be a 60 percent majority owner of Chelsea. The interest group also includes Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, real estate developer Jonathan Goldstein (CEO of investment firm Cain, which is partly owned by Boehly) and Boehly’s longtime Dodgers partner Mark Walter. After several failed takeover bids, such as the first attempt in 2019, Boehly, who started his career in banking, put for the first time in the director’s box as appointed club chairman in Chelsea’s 2-2 league home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Due to the draw, which means Tuchel’s team only got eight points in seven games, Chelsea missed in third place a preliminary decision in the long-distance duel with city rivals Arsenal and Tottenham over the Champions League qualification due to a late goal.

More than the upcoming catch-up match at Leeds United during the week in the Premier League, the focus is already on the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday. The team was able to pick up the final title for Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

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