The British government gave the green light on Tuesday, May 24, to the takeover of Chelsea football club, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich since 2003, and coveted by a consortium led by an American businessman.
“Given the sanctions we have imposed on people linked to Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured by a new owner”, British Culture, Media and Sport Minister Nadine Dorries said on Twitter on Wednesday..
1/2 Last night the Government issued a license that permits the sale of @ChelseaFC. Given the sanctions we placed o… https://t.co/WHf2y3lyqK
The Premier League had already approved the takeover of Chelsea football club by the group led by American businessman Todd Boehly on Tuesday. 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 London sanctions, had put the London club up for sale on March 2, insisting that he would not seek repayment of the loans taken out by the club throughout its 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 which prevents it from offering new contracts to its players or from recruiting them. This license expires on May 31.
After a long auction process involving several groups, it was Mr. Boehly and his investor partners who were chosen by the New York investment bank Raine Group, which is overseeing the sale.
The group of investors is composed, in addition to Mr. Boehly, of Mark Walter, with whom he is co-owner of the Dodgers, the baseball franchise of Los Angeles, of the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the company of manufacturing of equipment Medical Synthes, and the American investment company 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 made this sale possible, 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 victims of war”the government said in a statement.
Mr. Abramovich 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 transformed into a major player on the national and European level, accumulating in particular five titles in the Premier League and two Leagues champions (2012, 2021).