London – Chelsea’s forced sale ends after attracting the highest price for the $ 3.1 billion sports team from a consortium co-owned by Los Angeles Dodgers Todd Boehly.
There are still potential stumbling blocks for the sale of Roman Abramovich’s property, frozen by sanctions against the Russian oligarch. The British government must approve the terms and ensure that Abramovich does not profit, although it appears to want to divert the proceeds to charity.
Hours after the buyout terms were agreed and announced, Boehly had a disappointing introduction to life as an English Premier League investor when Chelsea knocked out a two-goal lead on Saturday and drew with Wolverhampton 2-2.
Boehly watched at the Stamford Bridge team’s West London stadium which needs just under $ 2.2 billion as much as the potential owners have pledged to invest.
Chelsea fans have become accustomed to lavish funds in 19 years under Abramovich’s ownership, with more than $ 1 billion in net spending on players who helped the men’s team win 21 trophies.
But Abramovich was forced to land the club after being targeted by the British government’s attacks on wealthy Russians linked to President Vladimir Putin after an invasion of Ukraine was launched in February.
Abramovich, who did not condemn the war, cannot benefit from the sale. The billionaire – at least before he was sanctioned – initially said the proceeds would go to a foundation for war victims, but it became less concrete.
After several rival bids were rejected, Chelsea agreed to a deal with a consortium that includes Boehly along with Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and funding private investment firm Clearlake Capital.
“The proceeds will be deposited in a frozen bank account in the UK with the intention of donating 100% to charity, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” Chelsea said in a statement.
The Premier League must approve them as new owners, and the government must sign them under the terms of a license that allows Chelsea to continue operating until May 31, while one of Abramovich’s frozen assets.
Abramovich said he would write off more than $ 1.9 billion in loans to Chelsea, but this was complicated by sanctions imposed by the British government. Abramovic’s side has positioned him as a potential peacemaker, but that trail has been publicly silenced in recent weeks.
Chelsea, whose ability to sell match tickets and commit to spending new players is hampered by sanctions, expects the sale to be completed by the end of May.
Thomas Tuchel’s team is third in the table with three games left. The title is out of reach, but Champions League qualifiers are almost secured despite a points drop on Saturday.
“I have no relief,” Tuchel said of future sales, “but it gives us a perspective on whether terms will be agreed, and we hope the process will be simplified and move forward as soon as possible. Good news.”
Chelsea have the smallest and oldest stadium of the Premier League’s most successful clubs, and plans to rebuild the 41,000-seat hall that Abramovich put on hold in 2018 as British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepened.
Chelsea have said £ 1.75bn will be funded to invest in Stamford Bridge, the academy and the women’s team, which could win the title on Sunday.
In addition to being a co-owner of the MLB Dodgers, Boehly also has minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
The challenge will be to maintain expectations of regular trophies produced as part of Chelsea’s costly transformation, with 21 collected in 19 years.
Chelsea won the league only once – in 1955 – when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. With expensive signatures, the club won the Premier League two years later and has since added four more, most recently in 2017.
Competition from wealthy owners to buy and retain players has increased. In England alone, Manchester City has benefited from Abu Dhabi’s investment since 2008, and Newcastle bought Saudi Arabia’s state fund last year.
No details were given about the future day-to-day leadership of Chelsea, which was the first Premier League club to benefit from a mega-rich foreign investor in 2003.
Boehly, who studied at the London School of Economics, co-founded the investment firm Eldridge Industries in 2015 and serves as its president and CEO. The private holding company invests in more than 70 companies, including sports, entertainment and media.
In addition to teams from Los Angeles, Boehly has minority stakes in the sports organization Cloud9 and DraftKings, an American fantasy sports betting company.
He is president of Security Benefit, a provider of retirement solutions based in Topeka, Kansas, and MRC, an entertainment company that funds and produces film and television programs, including major shows such as the Golden Globes, American Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards.
MRC’s second estate includes Penske Media, which owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to co-founding Eldridge, Boehly was president of the Guggenheim Partners. Walter, who teamed up with Boehly to buy Chelsea, is the CEO of a financial services company.
Their first chance to see Chelsea win the trophy is next Saturday in the FA Cup final. Liverpool are opponents at Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea’s $ 3.1 billion cost exceeds $ 2.3 billion paid in 2018 to the NFL Carolina Panthers.