British government has opened negotiations with Roman Abramovich’s advisers over the terms of the sale of Chelsea, which Downing Street is eager to push through as quickly as possible.
American bank The Raine Group paused the sale after Abramovich was sanctioned on Thursday, but there are numerous bidders willing to pay over £2billion for the club, if the Russian agrees to terms dictated by the government.
The government regard a quick sale as the best outcome for Chelsea and its fans, but for that to happen Abramovich would have to agree to writing off loans of over £1.5bn without receiving any of the proceeds.
The Arsenal manager praised his counterpart’s integrity in dealing with the current crisis at Chelsea.
The government are ready to grant a special licence to The Raine Group to complete the sale, although they would retain oversight of the process and are likely to demand that all the money raised be given away to charities linked to Ukraine.
Abramovich’s thinking is difficult to discern as he has altered his tactics numerous times since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago.
His initial plan to hand of the running of the club to the Chelsea Foundation collapsed within 48 hours due to objections raised by the Trustees and the Charity Foundation, while his rare publicly statement in which he expressed willingness to donate ‘net proceeds’ of the sale to victims of the war has been vetoed by the government and the club is no longer his to sell.
Abramovich has always denied being a close associate of Vladimir Putin, and won damages in the High Court case last year after contesting claim that he was instructed to by Chelsea by the Russia president to gain influence in the West, so may view accepting the government’s conditions of sale as an admission of guilt.