LONDON (AP) — Chelsea is being sold to a consortium fronted by American sports investor Todd Boehly, ending 19 years of ownership and lavish investment by Roman Abramovich until the Russian oligarch was sanctioned and forced to offload the Premier League club.
The sale price of 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) is the most lucrative-ever for a sports team worldwide but Abramovich cannot receive the proceeds, which he hopes will go to a foundation for the victims of the war in Ukraine. A further 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2billion) is committed to be invested in the reigning FIFA Club World Cup winners.
Chelsea said Saturday that terms for the buyout had been agreed with a consortium also features Mark Walter, who is also part of the Dodgers group, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and funding from private equity firm Clearlake Capital.
The Premier League must approve them as the new ownership and the government has to sign off the new under the terms of the license that allows Chelsea to continue operating as a business while one of Abramovich’s frozen assets.
The deal is expected to be completed by late May.
“Proceeds will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention to donate 100% to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,“ Chelsea said in a statement.
Boehly is already in London was expected to attend Chelsea’s Premier League match against Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel’s side is third in the standings with four games remaining with the title out of reach but Champions League qualification closer to being secured.
Chelsea has the smallest and most dated stadium of the Premier League’s most successful clubs, with plans for a rebuild of the 41,000-capacity venue put on hold by Abramovich in 2018 as British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepened.
Chelsea said the 1.75 billion pound committed was in funding investments in Stamford Bridge, the academy and the women’s team, which can win its league title on Sunday.
Boehly is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB franchise and he also has minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
The challenge will be maintaining the expectation of regular trophies produced under the expensive transformation of Chelsea following Abramovich’s buyout, which led to a 50-year English title drought ending.
Chelsea won 21 trophies in the 19 years of Abramovich’s ownership which is ending abruptly after his assets were frozen as part of British government sanctions as part of a crackdown on wealthy Russians with ties to President Vladimir Putin following the invasion in Ukraine in February.
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