Chelsea agree sale terms
Chelsea Football Club has confirmed that terms have been agreed with a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital over the acquisition of the English Premier League football team.
The Stamford Bridge-based outfit announced the £4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) deal for the reigning European champions in a statement issued in the early hours of Saturday, subject to receiving the required approvals.
“Chelsea Football Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for a new ownership group, led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjoerg Wyss, to acquire the club,” the statement said. “The sale is expected to complete in late May subject to all necessary regulatory approvals. More details will be provided at that time.”
Chelsea said the new owners would pay £2.5 billion to purchase shares while committing a further £1.75 billion to invest in the stadium, women’s team, the academy and the Chelsea Foundation.
The statement confirmed all proceeds would be placed in a frozen UK bank account and Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who is currently subject to sanctions by the British government, would donate all of the proceeds to charitable causes.
The announcement comes with just over three weeks remaining on the club’s current operating licence, which expires on May 31. Abramovich put the club up for sale in early March following his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
He cleared the path for the takeover on Thursday after dismissing reports he wanted a loan given to the club, reportedly worth £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion), to be repaid.
The Boehly group, which also includes Swiss billionaire Wyss, were in exclusive negotiations to buy the club after a late bid from British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe was rejected.
Groups led by Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and former British Airways chairman Martin Broughton were earlier eliminated from the bidding process while a consortium led by Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family pulled out of the running.
Chelsea have 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 as British-Russian diplomatic tensions deepened.
Boehly is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB franchise and he also has minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. The challenge will be maintaining the expectation of regular trophies produced under the expensive transformation of Chelsea, with 21 collected in 19 years.
Chelsea had won the league title only once — in 1955 — when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. Helped by expensive signings, the club won the Premier League title two years later and has added four more since then, most recently in 2017.
There is increased competition from wealthy owners to buy and retain players. In England alone, Manchester City has benefited from Abu Dhabi investment since 2008 and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund bought Newcastle last year.
No details have been provided about the future day-to-day leadership of Chelsea, who were the first Premier League club to benefit from foreign investor in 2003.
Boehly co-founded the Eldridge Industries investment firm in 2015 and serves as its chairman and CEO. The private holding company has investments in over 70 businesses, including in sports, entertainment and media.
Before he co-founded Eldridge, Boehly was president of Guggenheim Partners. Walter, who teamed up with Boehly to buy Chelsea, is CEO of the financial services firm.
Their first chance to see Chelsea win a trophy is next Saturday. Liverpool are the opponents in the FA Cup final at the Wembley.
(Written with inputs from Reuters and PTI)