LONDON – Chelsea FC will be sold to a consortium of Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehle, ending 19 years of ownership and lavish investment by Roman Abramovich until the Russian oligarchs were punished and forced to ditch the Premier League club over a war. in Ukraine.
The sale price of 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) for the 2021 Club World Cup winner and European champion is the most lucrative ever for a sports team worldwide, but Abramovich cannot get the proceeds, which he hopes will go to a foundation for victims. from the war.
Another 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) has been earmarked for investment in Chelsea’s teams and stadiums after two months of swift negotiations to sell the west London club since Russia invaded Ukraine.
After rejecting several competing bids, Chelsea said Saturday that terms of the acquisition have been agreed with a consortium that includes Boehly along with Dodgers chief owner Mark Walter and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and funding from private equity firm Clearlake Capital.
The Premier League must approve it as new ownership and the government must sign under the terms of the license allowing Chelsea to continue operating as a business until May 31 while it is one of Abramovich’s frozen assets.
Abramovich said he would cancel more than 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) in loans to Chelsea, but that was further complicated by sanctions imposed by the British government as part of a crackdown on wealthy Russians with ties to President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich’s side has positioned him as a potential peacemaker, but this path has remained publicly silent in recent weeks and the billionaire has not condemned the war.
Chelsea, whose ability to sell match tickets and commit to spending new players has been hampered by sanctions, expect the sale to be completed by late May.
“Proceeds will be deposited into a UK frozen bank account with the intention of donating 100% to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” Chelsea said in a statement.
Buhle is already in London and attended Chelsea’s Premier League match on Saturday against Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge. Thomas Tuchel’s team is third in the standings with four games remaining. The title is elusive but qualification for the Champions League is almost guaranteed.
Tuchel said of the upcoming sale is “uncomfortable,” but it gives us an outlook if terms are agreed, and hopefully the process can be streamlined and moved forward as soon as possible. good news.”
Chelsea have the smallest and oldest stadium among the most successful clubs in the Premier League, with plans to rebuild the 41,000-seat stadium that Abramovich suspended in 2018 as British-Russian diplomatic tensions intensified.
Chelsea said the commitment of 1.75 billion pounds would be to fund investments in Stamford Bridge, the academy and the women’s team that could win the league title on Sunday.
Boehly is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB franchise owner and also has minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
The challenge will be to maintain the expectation of regular trophies being produced in light of Chelsea’s costly turnaround, having collected 21 trophies in 19 years.
Chelsea only won the league once – in 1955 – when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. With the help of expensive signings, the club won the Premier League two years later and added four more since then, most recently in 2017.
There is increasing competition from wealthy landlords to buy and keep players. In England alone, Manchester City has benefited from Abu Dhabi’s investments since 2008, and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund bought Newcastle last year.
No details have been provided about the future day-to-day leadership of Chelsea, which was the first Premier League club to benefit from a wealthy foreign investor in 2003.
Boehly, who studied at the London School of Economics, co-founded investment firm Eldridge Industries in 2015 and serves as Chairman and CEO. The private holding company has investments in more than 70 companies, including in sports, entertainment and media.
Besides the Los Angeles teams, Boehly owns minority ownership stakes in esports organization Cloud9 and DraftKings, an American fantasy sports betting company.
He is the Chairman of Security Benefit, a retirement solutions provider based in Topeka, Kansas, and MRC, an entertainment company that funds and produces film and television programming, including major shows such as the Golden Globes, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards.
Other MRC holdings include Penske Media, which owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to co-founding Eldridge, Boehly was president of Guggenheim Partners. Walter, who teamed up with Boyle to buy Chelsea, is the CEO of the financial services company.
Their first chance is to see Chelsea win the trophy next Saturday in the FA Cup Final. Liverpool is the opponent at Wembley Stadium.
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