LONDON – Chelsea will be sold to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boli, which will stop Roman Abramovich’s 19-year tenure and generous investment until the Russian oligarch is under sanctions and forced to unload the Premier League club through war in Ukraine.
The selling price of £ 2.5 billion ($ 3.1 billion) for the current winners of the 2021 Club World Cup and European Champions is the most lucrative for a sports team worldwide, but Abramovich cannot generate revenue that, as he hopes to go to the war victims fund. Another £ 1.75 billion ($ 2.2 billion) has been invested in Chelsea teams and stadiums after two months of swift negotiations to sell the West London club after Russia invaded Ukraine.
After several competing bids were rejected, Chelsea said on Saturday that the buyout terms had been agreed with a consortium involving Boehly along with Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansorg Wiss and funding from private investment firm Clearla.
The Premier League must approve them as the new owner, and the government must sign the terms of a license that allows Chelsea to continue to operate as a business until May 31, being one of Abramovich’s frozen assets.
Abramovich said he was writing off more than £ 1.5 billion ($ 1.9 billion) in loans to Chelsea, but this was complicated by sanctions imposed by the British government as part of the crackdown on wealthy Russians linked to President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich’s tank has positioned him as a potential peacemaker, but in recent weeks the trail has been publicly silenced, and the billionaire has not condemned the war.
Chelsea, whose ability to sell match tickets and commit new players has been limited by sanctions, expects the sale to be completed by the end of May.
“Proceeds will be transferred to a frozen bank account in the UK with the intention of donating 100% to charity, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” – said in a statement, “Chelsea.”
Boli is already in London and was due to attend Chelsea’s Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel’s team is third in the standings, with four games left. The title is unattainable, but qualification in the Champions League is almost guaranteed.
Chelsea have the smallest and oldest stadium of the most successful Premier League clubs, and plans to renovate the 41,000-seat venue have been postponed by Abramovich in 2018 as British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepen.
Chelsea have said £ 1.75 billion will be used to fund an investment in Stamford Bridge, an academy and women’s team that could win the championship title on Sunday.
Fight is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB franchise, and also has minority stakes in the NBA Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA Los Angeles Sparks.
The challenge will be to maintain the expectation of regular trophies earned as part of Chelsea’s costly transformation, with 21 collected over 19 years.
Chelsea won the championship only once – in 1955 – when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. Thanks to expensive signings, the club won the Premier League title two years later and added four more since then, most recently in 2017.
Competition from wealthy owners for buying and retaining players is intensifying. Only in England has Manchester City benefited from Abu Dhabi’s investment since 2008, and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought Newcastle last year.
No details about Chelsea’s future day-to-day leadership, which was the first Premier League club to benefit from mega-rich foreign investors in 2003, have been reported.
Fighting, who studied at the London School of Economics, co-founded investment firm Eldridge Industries in 2015 and is its chairman and CEO. The private holding has investments in more than 70 businesses, including sports, entertainment and media.
In addition to teams from Los Angeles, Boehly has minority stakes in eSports organization Cloud9 and DraftKings, an American fantasy sports betting company.
He is chairman of Security Benefit, a retirement solutions provider based in Topeka, Kansas, and MRC, an entertainment company that funds and produces film and television programs, including major shows such as the Golden Globe, American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.
Other MRC holdings include Penske Media, which owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to co-founding Eldridge, Bellie was president of Guggenheim Partners. Walter, who teamed up with Boehly to buy Chelsea, is the CEO of a financial services firm.
Their first chance to see Chelsea win the trophy will be next Saturday. Liverpool are rivals in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
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