Sale of Chelsea by sanctioned Abramovich approved by UK govt

May 24, 2022, 11:21 AM | Updated: May 27, 2022, 1:49 pm

American businessman Todd Boehly attends the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Sunday, May 22, 2022.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea is ending after the British government approved the sale of the Premier League club by the sanctioned Russian oligarch to a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.

The government had to be sure that Abramovich, who was sanctioned over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine, did not profit from the enforced sale of the club that his investment turned into one of the most successful in European football.

The reigning FIFA Club World Cup winners and 2021 European champions will be sold for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) — the highest price ever for a sports team — with Premier League approval already granted on Tuesday.

Chelsea has been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March and it expires on May 31.

“Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner,” British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said. “We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals.”

There were weeks of discussions between officials from Chelsea and the government over securing the guarantee Abramovich could not gain financially. The sale proceeds will initially go into a frozen account before going to charity.

“We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war,” the British government said in a statement. “The steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community.”

Delays approving the sale centered on the fate of 1.6 billion pounds ($2 billion) loaned to Chelsea by Abramovich since 2003 that provided the funding to build a men’s squad that won 21 trophies during his ownership. Government assurances were needed from Abramovich, who has not condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, about writing off the debt that was linked to companies he controlled.

Boehly has already started attending Chelsea games in recent weeks since the club approved the sale to the consortium that also features Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, and funding from private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

It was a hotly-contested sale process, with four groups in the final running, before Boehly’s group was chosen on May 7 after guaranteeing 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) of investment in the team.

Chelsea fans have become accustomed to lavish spending under Abramovich, with more than $1 billion net spending on players.

Chelsea’s ability to sell match tickets and commit to new player spending has been curbed by the sanctions but now the new ownership is set to provide investment to manager Thomas Tuchel to strengthen the squad.

The certainty is that Chelsea will be playing in the Champions League next season after finishing third in the Premier League last Sunday despite the off-field turmoil. The women’s team won a league and cup double with a squad funded by Abramovich’s investment.

Chelsea had won the men’s championship only once — in 1955 — when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. Helped by expensive signings, the club won the Premier League two years later and has added four more since then, most recently in 2017.

Investment is needed in Stamford Bridge. 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 when British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepened.

The $3.1 billion cost of Chelsea eclipses the $2.3 billion paid in 2018 for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

As well as being part owner of the MLB’s Dodgers, Boehly also has minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bump & Stacy Show

AP

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson lifts the Stanley Cup after the team defeated the Tampa ...
Associated Press

Mile High magic: Avs add to Denver’s title town run on ice

DENVER (AP) — How’s this for a hat trick: The Mile High City is now home to the Stanley Cup, NCAA and national high school hockey champions. There must be something in the (frozen) water around Denver, right? “More the elevation than the water,” cracked University of Denver coach David Carle, whose program won its […]
14 hours ago
Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, reacts towards San Diego Padres' Blake Snell after bein...
Associated Press

Harper set for thumb surgery, Phils hope he plays this year

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will have surgery Wednesday to repair his broken left thumb and the team hopes the 2021 NL MVP can play again this season. Manager Rob Thomson did not offer a timetable for Harper’s return. “It’s tough, but it’s probably the best thing for him. So whatever’s best for […]
14 hours ago
Cleveland Guardians' Amed Rosario scores behind Minnesota Twins catcher Gary Sanchez on a double by...
Associated Press

Guardians end skid, rally past Twins in day-night DH opener

CLEVELAND (AP) — Amed Rosario’s clutch two-run single in the eighth inning rallied Cleveland to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Tuesday, snapping the Guardians’ five-game losing streak. Down 2-1 and in danger of dropping four games behind the Twins in the AL Central, the Guardians […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Former San Antonio Spurs summer league head coach Will Hardy looks on during the second half...
Associated Press

AP source: Celtics’ Hardy accepts offer to become Jazz coach

Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy has accepted an offer to become the coach of the Utah Jazz, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Tuesday. Hardy and the Jazz were in the process of finalizing contract language, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) warms up before an NFL football g...
Associated Press

AP sources: Commanders, McLaurin agree on 3-year extension

Two people with knowledge of the move say the Washington Commanders have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension with star wide receiver Terry McLaurin. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal had not been announced. One person confirmed the new deal is worth up to […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Miami Fusion's Tyrone Marshall (15) assists Kansas City Wizards' Scott Vermillion after the ...
Associated Press

Ex-Sporting KC player Vermillion had CTE, a 1st in MLS

BOSTON (AP) — Researchers have diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a Major League Soccer player for the first time, saying Tuesday that former Sporting Kansas City defender Scott Vermillion suffered from the degenerative brain disease. The Boston University CTE Center said Vermillion, who died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020 at the age […]
14 hours ago
Sale of Chelsea by sanctioned Abramovich approved by UK govt