The UK government, on Wednesday, announced that Todd Boehly’s £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) purchase of Chelsea, the Premier League football club, from sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, had been approved.
Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said she’d issued a license to permit the deal hours after the Premier League approved of it on Tuesday evening.
She noted, “We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals”, adding, “Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to (Vladimir) Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner”.
Boehly, who co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, led the consortium which agreed to the deal to purchase Chelsea.
However, there were hiccups as the UK government wasn’t sure proceeds or profits wouldn’t go to Abramovich. The Russian who bought the club in 2003, stepped down as owner and put it up for sale right before he was hit with sanctions. The British government also said Abramovich sought his £1.5 billion loan to the club to be repaid upon sale, something the oligarch has denied.
The stiff stance against Abramovich comes despite the oligarch’s attempts to lead peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and a call at the Cannes film festival to drop sanctions against the oligarch due to his mediating role.
License to buy
Chelsea had thus far been operating under a special license since the club’s assets were frozen. This prevented the North London side from conducting any transfer agreements with the existing squad or external players.
However, with the sale being sanctioned, the Blues can return to business and will have to be quick about it if they wish to make the most of the summer transfer window before the new season begins.
Thomas Tuchel’s side landed in the third spot in the Premier League and suffered FA Cup and League Cup defeats to Liverpool.
The German manager had said in an interview on the Chelsea site, prior to the sale confirmation, that the club was operating at an enormous disadvantage and would need to be quick in the transfer market.
As per Agence France-Presse reports, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager is set to receive £200 million in his transfer war chest.
Farewell Abramovich, the Bridge trembles, but you must leave
Abramovich bought Chelsea for just £140 million in 2003, when clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal dominated the league. However, with the oligarch’s money, Chelsea went from a club facing financial disasters to being one of the richest in football.
The current sale is the most paid for a sports club following the $2.4 billion purchase of the New York Mets baseball team in 2020.
Abramovich invested heavily in Chelsea, bankrolling big transfers. During his 19 years, he won 19 major trophies including five Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues.
His arrival also signalled a change as the PL witnessed increasing foreign investment.
All eyes on Boehly
Currently, Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s home stadium is in need of major redevelopment, since it only holds 42,000, which is lower compared to rivals.
Boehly, however, has a good track record when it comes to stadium improvement and success in sports.
With the Dodgers, his investments have helped the side to reach MLB (Major League Baseball) playoffs every year, for the last nine years. The side also lifted their first World Series in 32 years, in 2020.
His consortium will be looking to replicate this success overseas with the footballing club.