The sand is fast running out in Roman Abramovich’s hourglass as his 19-year tenure as Chelsea owner is set to finally end after the UK government approved a deal to push through Todd Boehly’s £4.25billion takeover.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire has apparently struck a deal with the UK government which will push through Todd Boehly’s takeover of the club and finally bring an end to his ownership of Chelsea.
Abramovich and his legal team have reportedly found a way to resolve the issues that had prevented the takeover from being finalised, with the PA News Agency reporting that the two parties have now struck an agreement over how his £1.5bn loan will be handled.
Abramovich has been insisting repeatedly he does not wish to have the loan repaid to him, but Government officials were apparently worried that the 55-year-old would renege on his stand at a later date and call for the money to be repaid. However, the exiled Chelsea owner, who was sanctioned by the government in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, has now provided further assurances to Downing Street that he will not return to collect the loan.
Viewed by many as a significant development for Chelsea, valid concerns are that Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover would collapse before the club’s operating licence expires on May 31. But now it seems there’s nothing obstructing the path, now which appears to be clear for the American to complete his purchase of the Blues as the Premier League look set to approve the deal.
Eldridge Industries founder and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly will become the controlling owner once the deal is sealed, with the American businessman being the most influential in the consortium, with Clearlake Capital co-founder Behdad Eghbali expected to work closely alongside him and playing an active role in making financial decisions.
Concurrent with the understanding in any takeover, the Premier League must give a final sign-off on Boehly’s consortium through its owners and directors test, before the Government issues a new licence to allow the sale to complete. Government approval for the sale should also give the green light for Abramovich’s plan for the sale’s proceeds to be donated to a new charitable foundation.
The news will understandably come as a huge relief to those within the club and in particular Blues boss Thomas Tuchel who has been more than a bit frustrated by the uncertainty caused by the takeover. Chelsea have been unable to make any signings or renew contracts under the restricted licence, resulting in the exit of key defensive duo Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
The ongoing nature of the takeover has already proved to be an unwanted distraction to the players on the pitch and Tuchel admitted it has impacted their form: “It has for sure, I don’t think there’s any sense in hiding from the fact that it is a distraction,” he said earlier in May. “It’s a question of to which level we can still live up to even if we are distracted, worried or disadvantaged by it.
“We’re the only club at the moment who suffers like this and maybe the first club who ever did this. It’s a situation that’s unique and quite challenging. Of course, everyone wants it to be clarified. These are steps in the right direction. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time because we need the positive energy and the competitive atmosphere as a club. That’s why it’s very important that things progress.”