Roman Abramovich is selling Chelsea – it’s official, and it has not quite sunk in yet. On Wednesday evening, the businessman who spent 19 years with Chelsea published a letter on the club’s website, stating:
I made the decision to sell the club because I believe it is in the best interests of the club, its fans and employees, as well as sponsors and partners.
The sale will not happen suddenly and straight away. We will follow the proper procedures. I will not ask to repay any debts, as for me, it has always been a pure passion for the game and this club — not business or something for the sake of money.
Moreover, I have instructed my team to create a charitable foundation where all the net sales income will go. The foundation will be created for all victims in Ukraine.
“It hurts me to leave the club like this,” said Abramovich about the sale of Chelsea, and these words have already become iconic.
Most of the English media wrote about Abramovich’s willingness to sell Chelsea on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Telegraph, The Times, Goal.com, The Independent, and The New York Times provided details of the future arrangement.
There was one thing everyone agreed on: in the past, Abramovich rejected the idea of selling the club, but the sanctions and the growing pressure on the club changed the situation.
- On Tuesday, The Telegraph shared the inside information about three potential buyers. Raine Group, a company that provides financial advice from New York, became the intermediary.
* At first, Chelsea management refused to give any comments, which looked suspicious: in the past, the club was quite quick to deny rumours about the sale of the club.
* Saturday’s attempt to transfer the management of Chelsea to a charitable foundation went badly: even the trustees had doubts about the underpinning reasons for this gesture, not to mention politicians and experts.
According to The New York Times, as soon as it became clear that the process could drag on and eventually lead to failure, and with the assumption that sanctions were inevitable, Abramovich and his advisers switched to a new plan and decided to sell the club.
One of the potential buyers is an 86-year-old Swiss billionaire, philanthropist and co-owner of the Dodgers baseball, who made attempts to buy the club earlier
On Wednesday, we found out the name of one of the potential investors – Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Or, rather, Wyss spoke to the Blink newspaper journalists himself, stating that he and three other people have received offers to buy the Chelsea football club. He did clarify, though, that he would not agree to buy the club on his own but would prefer to become part of a consortium of “six or seven investors. According to the Swiss billionaire, he can imagine himself becoming a part of Chelsea with partners, but definitely not going to make it alone.
What do we know about Hansjorg?
Wyss is 86 years old and has around 4.6 billion pounds. He was born in Bern but has lived in the USA for a long time. Wyss became rich after founding Synthes USA, a company that produces medical equipment. Hansjorg invests a lot in ecology, science and liberal political projects. Forbes named Wyss one of the most generous philanthropists in the world. At the same time, there is no mention of Wyss’s connection with football.
According to Wyss, he has to wait 4-5 days because, at the moment, Abramovich is asking too much. Chelsea owes him two billion pounds, but the club has no money. This means, says Wyss, that whoever buys Chelsea will have to pay compensation to Abramovich. [But Abramovich stressed that he would not demand repayment of the debt accumulated by the club over 19 years in his statement of sale].
* The New York Times states that the second potential buyer is Todd Boehly, an American investor and co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. In 2019, Boehly had already tried to buy Chelsea and was ready to pay 2.25 billion pounds, but Abramovich refused the deal. According to various estimates, Boehly’s fortune does not exceed $5 billion.
According to The Telegraph, Wyss and Boehly teamed up to make an offer. According to the latter, football is the biggest sport in the world, and the passion the fans have for the sport and the teams cannot be compared to anything else. Therefore, they are trying to a) win and b) be a part of society.
• The Guardian and Goal.com also mention Jim Ratcliffe, one of the wealthiest people in the UK. In the past, he also wanted to buy Chelsea. His company Ineos owns Nice from League 1.
* Another candidate is Lotfi Mansour, a 33–year-old Egyptian CEO of Man Capital, an investment company of the Mansour Group holding. He took after his grandfather, who was also a businessman. Some say Mansour even has a Stamford Bridge season ticket.
2.6 billion pounds – according to Goal.com. This price is significantly higher than what Abramovich himself paid back in 2003 (140 million pounds).
The Telegraph wrote about Abramovich’s desire to get 4 billion but stated the price of around 2 billion. It also notes that the cost of Chelsea is affected by the construction of a new Stamford Bridge stadium, which was put on hold in 2018. It accommodates only 41,800 spectators and is seriously behind the arenas of competitors in the Premier League in terms of capacity (and hence profitability).
Sky Sports insider Kaveh Solhekol says that selling Chelsea now would be as difficult as handing over the club’s management to a charitable organisation. The owner may be sanctioned by the British government at any time, and his assets may be frozen. Is there anyone who will want to deal with this?
“Abramovich is in panic, like the rest of the oligarchs. Currently, he is trying to sell all his villas in England, as well as get rid of Chelsea as soon as possible,” Wyss said in an interview with Blink.
British MP Chris Bryant made a similar statement: “Roman Abramovich, I think, is afraid of being sanctioned and therefore sells his house and apartment.”
Even when Abramovich had problems with his visa in 2018, it did not make love for him and the club to fade. Now, however, the usual order of things had been broken.