A consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is set to lodge a formal offer to buy Chelsea in the coming days, sources have told ESPN.
Boehly is working with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and at least one other businessman to submit an official proposal ahead of the March 15 deadline imposed by New York-based firm Raine Group, who have been appointed to take care of the sale.
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Roman Abramovich announced his intention to sell Chelsea on Tuesday night amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West over the invasion of Ukraine.
The United Kingdom government have been under mounting pressure to freeze the assets of high-net-worth individuals with portfolios in England, and although Abramovich has always denied any ties to the Vladimir Putin regime, Labor MP Chris Bryant claims a leaked Home Office document from 2019 states that he is a person of interest.
Sources have told ESPN that Abramovich wants at least £3 billion for Chelsea, and although there is still a possibility he could be sanctioned, potentially scuppering a sale, co-founder of Raine Group, Joe Ravitch, insisted there is no immediate urgency to complete a deal.
“We are not going to rush anything — it is very important that Chelsea have the right owner to guide the club forward,” Ravitch told news agency Reuters.
A spokesperson for Boehly did not immediately respond to comment when contacted by ESPN, but sources have suggested the consortium’s opening offer will be similar to the level at which the American was interested when exploring the chance to buy Chelsea in 2019. Boehly held talks with Chelsea and Tottenham at the time.
It is believed Boehly, who is estimated to have a net worth of £4.7bn, was prepared to pay around £2.2bn for Chelsea then, and sources claim the consortium are skeptical as to whether it is worth much more now despite Abramovich’s valuation, given the circumstances in which he is selling.
Any sanction from the UK government that resulted in Abramovich’s assets being frozen — as has happened to other oligarchs under direction from the European Union, including former Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov — would make a sale extremely difficult.
Sources have told ESPN that Raine have received a surprisingly high number of inquiries about Chelsea and that multiple bids are expected — something Abramovich presumably hopes will drive up the price as negotiations continue.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has suggested that new owners could be approved within a 10-day period.
“I think the quickest one we’ve ever done is 10 days,” he told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday. “That’s not to say that record can’t be beaten.
“But, normally, it would take a number of weeks, and it all depends on the complexity of the deal and the number of potential owners.”
Abramovich has stated he will not seek repayment of his £1.51bn loan and will donate the “net proceeds” of the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine.