By ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer
LONDON (AP) — Chelsea will be sold to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, ending 19 years of ownership and lavish investment by Roman Abramovich until the Russian oligarch was sanctioned. and forced to offload the Premier League club over the war in Ukraine.
The £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) sale price for the defending FIFA Club World Cup winners and 2021 European champions is the most lucrative ever for a sports team worldwide, but Abramovich cannot receive the proceeds, which he hopes will go to a foundation for war victims. A further £1.75bn ($2.2bn) has been pledged to invest in Chelsea teams and stadiums after two months of rapid talks to sell the west London club since Russia invaded Ukraine.
After several rival offers were rejected, Chelsea said on Saturday the terms of the takeover had been agreed with a consortium including Boehly with Dodgers main owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and funding from private equity firm Clearlake. Capital.
The Premier League must approve them as the new owner and the government must sign under the terms of the license which allows Chelsea to continue operating as a business until May 31 while being one of the frozen assets of ‘Abramovich.
Abramovich has said he will write off loans of more than 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to Chelsea, but that has been complicated by sanctions put in place by the UK government as part of a crackdown on wealthy Russians linked to President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich’s team has positioned him as a potential peacemaker, but that track has gone public in recent weeks and the billionaire has not condemned the war.
Chelsea, whose ability to sell match tickets and commit to further spending on players has been hampered by the sanctions, expects the sale to be complete by the end of May.
“Profits will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention of donating 100% to charitable causes, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” Chelsea said in a statement.
Boehly is already in London and was due to attend Chelsea’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel’s side are third in the standings with four games to play. The title is out of reach but qualification for the Champions League is almost assured.
Chelsea have the smallest and most dated stadium of the Premier League’s most successful clubs, with plans to rebuild the 41,000-seater site put on hold by Abramovich in 2018 as Anglo-Russian diplomatic tensions escalated. were intensifying.
Chelsea said the £1.75billion pledged will be used to fund investment in Stamford Bridge, the academy and the women’s team, which can win their league title on Sunday.
Boehly is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB franchise and he also owns minority stakes in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
The challenge will be to maintain the expectation of regular trophies produced as part of Chelsea’s costly transformation, with 21 collected in 19 years.
Chelsea had only won the league title once – in 1955 – when Abramovich bought the club in 2003. Aided by expensive signings, the club won the Premier League title two years later and took it from there. added four more since then, most recently in 2017.
There is increased competition from wealthy owners to buy and retain players. In England alone, Manchester City have benefited from investments from Abu Dhabi since 2008 and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought Newcastle last year.
No details were provided on the future day-to-day management of Chelsea, who were the first Premier League club to benefit from a mega-wealthy foreign investor in 2003.
Boehly, who studied at the London School of Economics, co-founded investment firm Eldridge Industries in 2015 and serves as its chairman and chief executive. The private holding company has investments in more than 70 companies, including in sports, entertainment and media.
Besides the Los Angeles teams, Boehly has minority stakes in esports organization Cloud9 and DraftKings, an American fantasy sports betting company.
He is president of Security Benefit, a retirement solutions provider based in Topeka, Kansas, and MRC, an entertainment company that finances and produces film and television programming, including major shows such as the Golden Globes, American Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards.
Other MRC holdings include Penske Media, which owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to co-founding Eldridge, Boehly was chairman of Guggenheim Partners. Walter, who partnered with Boehly to buy Chelsea, is the financial services company’s CEO.
Their first chance to see Chelsea lift a trophy is next Saturday. Liverpool are the opponents in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
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