A consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly has completed its takeover of Premier League club Chelsea in a deal worth up to £4.25billion.
The deal was officially announced on Saturday, ending Roman Abramovich’s 19-year tenure and freeing Chelsea from sanctions restrictions imposed on their former owner for his alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea will now be granted a new license to participate in the 2022-23 season, ending three months of uncertainty in which it was feared the club might cease to exist.
The club said in a statement: “Chelsea Football Club can confirm that a final and binding agreement was reached last night to sell the Club to the Todd Boehly / Clearlake Capital consortium. The transaction is expected to be completed on Monday. The club will update further at that time.”
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Chelsea won 21 trophies in 19 years under Abramovich’s ownership – no English club won more silverware in that time and February’s Club World Cup win in Abu Dhabi meant they were done set to win all possible trophies at least once.
Abramovich said in a statement: “As I hand over Chelsea to their new goalkeepers, I would like to wish them the best of success, both on and off the pitch. It has been an honor of a lifetime to be part of this club — I would like to thank all past and present players of the club, the staff and of course the fans for these incredible years.
“I am proud that as a result of our joint successes, millions of people are now benefiting from the new charitable foundation that is being created. This is the legacy we have created together.”
The Boehly-led consortium has been selected as Chelsea’s preferred bidder by New York investment bank Raine Group, appointed to handle the sale after having held financial positions for the club for the past few years.
British businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe tried to exploit disagreements over the precise terms of the sale by tabling his own £4.25billion bid in the 11th hour.
However, Abramovich appears to have admitted defeat in a bid to secure the £2.5billion asking price – supplemented by a commitment from the Boehly camp of £1.75billion of additional investment – paid to a company that the British government feared having links with the members. from his family.
To ensure that the UK government and the European Commission have signed the deal – Abramovich holds a Portuguese passport and is also sanctioned by the European Union – the money from the sale will be paid into a deposit account, the proceeds of which will be distributed to victims of the war in Ukraine.
The deal is the most expensive for a sports team in history and includes a commitment not to sell a majority stake in Chelsea for at least 10 years.
All parties had until May 31 to reach a final agreement as that was the date Chelsea’s special operating license expired, and sources say those involved worked around the clock to s ensuring that the existence of the club was not threatened.
Although the process has been tense and volatile at times, sources at Chelsea have pointed out that the usual timeframe for a typical Premier League takeover is between nine and 12 months and that the Blues changed hands in just over of three months.
Abramovich first sought to create distance between himself and the club on February 26 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gathered pace, issuing a statement the day before the Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool according to which he passed on the “stewardship and care” of the club to the Chelsea Trustees, a charitable entity made up of prominent figures from the past and present.
However, once it became clear that the administrators of Chelsea were utterly ill-equipped to run one of the biggest clubs in world football and that they would not be immune from government action against Abramovich by this extent, a second announcement followed just 72 hours later. in which he confirmed his intention to sell.
This attracted interest from around 200 parties, with sources suggesting Raine Group received more than 20 credible offers, ultimately narrowed down to the group led by Boehly.
Sources have told ESPN that a key factor is the lead Boehly’s side have had since their earlier interest in buying a Premier League side dating back to 2019.
Boehly, who owns a 20% stake in the Dodgers, explored the possibility of buying Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur at the time, but was rebuffed in his attempts.
This time he was successful with a consortium of which he is the face but whose bulk of the funding comes from Clearlake Capital, a private equity firm based in Santa Monica, Calif., and owned by Behdad Eghbali and Jose E. Feliciano. . Clearlake will be the majority shareholder, but other figures involved include Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss; Guggenheim Partners chief executive Mark Walter, who also owns a stake in the Dodgers and LA Lakers; London property developer Jonathan Goldstein; and Danny Finkelstein, former adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Chelsea had been unable to acquire or offload players or renegotiate contracts with existing squad members while operating under a special license, contributing to Antonio Rudiger’s impending departures to Real Madrid and from Andreas Christensen to Barcelona.
Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea’s new owners are set to back manager Thomas Tuchel with significant funds to improve the squad while contract talks with players including midfield trio N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mason Mount, will now resume. Other restrictions that prevented the opening of the club’s megastore and stadium hotel will also be lifted.