August 14, 2022

There is ‘alarm’ that the takeover of the Blues could be ‘timed out’

Ministers are concerned that a £4.25bn deal to buy Chelsea may be at risk of “falling apart” due to a lack of consensus with the club over the proceeds of any sale. 

As reported by the BBC, a UK government insider claims that there is “alarm” in Whitehall that the takeover of the Blues could be “timed out” if deadlines are not met in time. 

The London club have agreed terms on a deal with a private-equity funded consortium led by US investor Todd Boehly, who is the co-owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team.

‘Serious concern’ and Chelsea’s ‘complicated’ ownership structure

Despite this, a senior Whitehall source has told the BBC that there was now “serious concern” that outgoing owner Roman Abramovich was “willing to let Chelsea go under” over an alleged “refusal to agree to a sale structure that gives ministers confidence that proceeds would go to a good cause”.

It is thought that the Blues, who are operating under a special licence from the UK government which expires on May 31, would need to officially sell the club by early June. Any takeover of Chelsea requires the approval of ministers and the English football authorities.

Abramovich denies asking for £1.6bn loan to be repaid

While Abramovich has insisted that he has not requested for a £1.6bn loan to Chelsea to be repaid when the club is sold, the government insider said that approval was being thwarted by Chelsea’s “complicated” ownership structure.

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“Two big sticking points remain – where exactly the proceeds of the sale will be held, and what legal guarantees government will be given about the money going to good causes,” they said.

“Essentially, despite committing to all proceeds going to good causes in public, Abramovich seems unwilling to give the same legal commitments, which would have backed up his public statements of about a week ago, that in the deal neither he nor his affiliates could basically try and stake a claim to that unpaid debt between Fordstam and Camberley.

“A deal which would allow the cash to be diverted during the deal would be a breach of sanctions and is seen as a red line for ministers.”

The source added: “There are deadlines at the end of this month and the start of June, which would either see the club booted out of European competition or the Premier League entirely. But a good chunk of the sale needs to be done this week or next.”

Chelsea was put up for sale prior to owner Abramovich being sanctioned for his alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

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