Up to 10 parties are considering making offers for Chelsea, with investment bankers working on the sale expecting most interest to come from the United States, writes Kaveh Solhekol.
Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern money has been behind the acquisition of many English clubs over the past two decades, but that has all changed since the Chinese government’s crackdown on foreign investment and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Instead, the majority of potential Chelsea buyers, who will register their interest with investment bank The Raine Group, are expected to be based in the United States.
Current owner Roman Abramovich – who has an asking price of £3billion – wants to ensure the club is sold to someone or a group who will continue their policy of investing in the team with a view to redevelop Stamford Bridge or build a new stadium.
Abramovich has loaned Chelsea £1.5bn since buying the club in a £140m deal in 2003. Chelsea’s latest accounts show a turnover of £416m pounds sterling and a loss of £145 million after tax for the year to June 30, 2021.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants to sanction Abramovich, but the National Crime Agency must prove a link to Vladimir Putin before the government can act.
Who are the potential bidders?
Todd Boehly-Hansjorg Wyss Consortium – Boehly tried to buy Chelsea in a £2.2billion deal three years ago and he still wants to buy a Premier League club. The LA Dodgers co-owner has teamed up with Swiss billionaire Wyss. They are unlikely to pay the £3billion asking price.
Muhsin Bayrak – The Turkish businessman’s spokesperson has told Sky Sports News he has submitted an offer for Chelsea but his claims are being treated with caution.
RedBird Capital Partners – The US private equity firm which last April paid £533m for an 11% stake in Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group. Premier League rules would prevent them from owning another club.
Thomas Rickets – The Chicago Cubs president is looking for investment opportunities outside the United States and was part of a consortium that tried to buy AC Milan in 2018.
Nick Candy – Property developer and Chelsea supporter who wants to form a consortium to buy the club.
Conor McGregor – MMA fighter and Manchester United supporter who claimed on social media on Friday that he was offering £1.5billion. We don’t think that’s the profile of the owner that Abramovich is looking for.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe – Britain’s richest man once considered buying Chelsea but is known to believe Premier League clubs are too expensive. I bought Nice and FC Lausanne instead. His spokesman ruled him out of a move to Chelsea.
Loutfy Mansour – The Egyptian businessman is a Chelsea season ticket holder but his spokesman said he was not pursuing an offer.
There are only a handful of billionaires who would be able to afford Abramovich’s asking price, but any potential sale is complicated by:
- Unease about doing business with Abramovich as he faces the threat of being sanctioned by the British government.
- With Russian banks under sanction, it could prove difficult for Abramovich to sell or open a bank account for the charitable foundation he wants to set up to distribute the net proceeds to war victims in Ukraine. Non-Russian banks and financial institutions may be unwilling or unable to become involved in a potential transaction.
- Reluctance to enter into agreements involving Russians due to the invasion of Ukraine.
- Lack of confidence in global stock markets due to the invasion.
- In the past, there was a lot of interest in buying Premier League clubs in Russia, China and the Middle East. It is unlikely to be the case this time.
- The British government is preparing legislation that would allow it to seize the assets of those sanctioned without having to pay them compensation.
Tuchel: No problem staying in charge despite Abramovich’s exit
Thomas Tuchel says he has “no problem” staying on as Chelsea head coach despite Abramovich’s plan to sell, insisting he “loves everything about the club”.
Tuchel, who was appointed under Abramovich’s ownership in January 2021, admits the owner’s decision to sell has created “uncertainty”, but is in no doubt about his own future.
Asked if he would have a problem staying at Stamford Bridge, the head coach replied: “No, the opposite of a problem staying here.
“I’ve said many times that I love working in the Premier League, I love being in England and feeling the tradition and love of sport in general and football in particular. It’s an amazing place.
“Chelsea are, for me, the perfect fit. I love being here, I love everything about the club and I hope that continues.”