After months of negotiations to have Chelsea FC land in different ownership and away from the leadership of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the Blues will be sold to a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, who was at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to watch his new team tie Wolverhampton.
The 46-year-old Boehly and a large group of investors will pay $3.1 billion for the club, the most anyone has paid for a sports franchise ever. Boehly’s group has promised another $2.2 billion for facility improvements and investments. The sale is expected to be completed in late May.
Abramovich was forced to sell the club after he was sanctioned by the British government back in March because of his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin amid the country’s brutal war and needless invasion of Ukraine. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited having “no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” as reasoning for sanctioning Ambramovich.
“Of the total investment being made, ($2.5 billion) will be applied to purchase the shares in the club and such proceeds will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention to donate 100% to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich,” per a statement from Chelsea FC.
Chelsea was issued a special exception by the U.K. government, allowing the football club to continue to play games, pay staff and allow season-ticket holders to attend games while Abramovich was being sanctioned. Boehly originally made a bid of $1.5 billion to buy Chelsea but heavily upped his monetary investment during negotiations with the British government.
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The exception’s license also didn’t cover buying new players, agreeing to new contracts with current roster members and selling new tickets for all games. The transfer window is closed until July 1, but a trio of integral players — team captain Cesar Azpilicueta, defender Antonio Rudiger and midfielder Andreas Christensen — all have deals expiring at the end of the season. During the freeze Rudiger was confirmed to be leaving for Real Madrid, while Christensen is heavily expected to join Barcelona.