Roman Abramovich has 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.
The Russian billionaire and his legal team have reportedly found a resolution to the issues that had prevented the takeover from being finalised. As reported by the PA News Agency, the two parties have now struck an agreement over how his £1.5bn debt will be handled.
Abramovich has repeatedly stated he does not wish to have the loan repaid to him, but Government officials were apparently worried that the 55-year-old would perform a U-turn 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.
It is regarded as a significant development for Chelsea, with valid concerns that Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover would collapse before the club’s operating licence expires on May 31. But now the path appears to be clear for the American to complete his purchase of the Blues, with the Premier League set to approve to deal.
Eldridge Industries founder and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly will become the controlling owner once the takeover is concluded after signing an agreement to purchase the club on May 7. The American businessman will hold the most influence 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.
As with 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 come as a relief to those within the club and in particular, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel, who has been left 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, who met Boehly for the first time last week, 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.”