London: Roman Abramovich’s 19 years ownership of Chelsea FC moved one step closer to ending after the British government approved the sale of the Premier League club by the sanctioned Russian oligarch to a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, Khaleej Times reported on Wednesday.
The government had to be sure that Abramovich, who was sanctioned over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, did not profit from the enforced sale of the club. It was Abramovich’s investment that had turned Chelsea into one of the most successful clubs in European football.
The reigning FIFA Club World Cup winners and 2021 European champions will be sold for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) — the highest price ever for a sports team — once Premier League approval is granted.
Chelsea has been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March and it expires on May 31.
It was a hotly-contested sale process following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three months ago and Boehly’s group had to guarantee 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) of investment in the team to be chosen as the new owners.
Chelsea had already agreed earlier this month to a deal with the consortium that features Boehly along with Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, and funding from private equity firm Clearlake Capital.
Chelsea fans have become accustomed to lavish funding in the 19 years under Abramovich’s ownership, with more than $1 billion net spending on players who have helped the men’s team win 21 trophies.
Abramovich, who has not condemned the war, has said he would write off loans of more than 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to Chelsea but that has been complicated by the sanctions put in place by the British government.