Chelsea: Todd Boehly consortium takeover deal gets UK government approval

Banner at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea won the Premier League five times and the Champions League twice during Abramovich’s ownership

The government has approved the £4.25bn takeover of Chelsea by a consortium led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly.

The London club was put up for sale in March before owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned over his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

On Tuesday, the Premier League said the consortium had passed its owners’ and directors’ test.

Chelsea have been operating under a special government licence which expires on 31 May.

“Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea,” a government spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

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The government does not want Abramovich to receive any of the proceeds from the sale, which will instead go into a frozen bank account to be donated to charity.

The statement added: “Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea has been able to continue to play football. But we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.

“Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. 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 steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for necessary licences required and we thank them for all their cooperation.”

Earlier this month the deal had seemed close to collapse over concerns proceeds would not reach good causes as promised by Abramovich.

Abramovich denied that he had asked for his £1.5bn loan to Chelsea be repaid when the club was sold.

Several parties expressed an interest but Chelsea agreed to sell to the Boehly-led consortium earlier in May.

The consortium is led by Boehly, but Clearlake Capital – a Californian private equity firm – would own a majority of the shares in Chelsea. Other investors include US billionaire Mark Walter, also a co-owner of the LA Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.

Chelsea finished the Premier League season in third place, losing both the EFL Cup and FA Cup finals to Liverpool on penalties, and going out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.

Former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the move would be a “complete relief” for everyone connected to the club.

“Today’s announcement will be complete relief that [Chelsea] can get on with business as usual and do what is needed to ensure the team is best prepared for next season,” said Kenyon.

“We’ve got a very short transfer window and plans will have been made before.

“They have already lost some players through not being able to re-sign them so I think everybody – the squad and the management – will be relieved they can get on with the job they’re employed to do.”

Analysis – ‘Final hurdle overcome’

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

With the final hurdle to the takeover of Chelsea finally overcome, and one of the biggest deals in sports history able to be completed, this was the news Chelsea fans had been desperate for after several weeks of unprecedented uncertainty.

Time had been running out for the club to be issued with the licences needed to play next season, so government officials will also be relieved that the future of the European champions has been secured in the nick of time after a highly complicated sales process. Approval by European authorities is still required, but that is now regarded as a formality.

With the Abramovich era drawing to a close, attention will now turn to the extent to which the new owners invest in the club and back Thomas Tuchel in the transfer market. And with Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United all now US-owned, it will be fascinating to see what influence these clubs try to bring to the future direction of the Premier League.

Chelsea’s sale – the key moments

24 February: Russia invades Ukraine

26 February: Roman Abramovich gives “stewardship and care” of club to charitable foundation

2 March: The Chelsea owner says he plans to sell the club

10 March: The UK government sanctions Abramovich

5 May: Abramovich denies he has requested a £1.5bn loan he made to Chelsea is repaid

7 May: Todd Boehly agrees a £4.25bn deal for the club

16 May: Government insider says the deal is close to collapse

24 May: Premier League approves takeover

25 May: Government approves takeover

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