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Chelsea And Roman Abramovic – What Now?

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In a statement released on the Chelsea website, Russian billionaire and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic has confirmed that he is putting the club up for sale. The oligarch also stated that he is writing off the £1.5 billion worth of loans he made to the Premier club, with any net proceeds from the sale going towards a charitable foundation which would be “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine”.


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Abramovic, 55, has owned the club since buying it from Ken Bates for £140 million in 2003 and has overseen Chelsea’s most successful period in their history, winning 19 trophies in his 19 years as owner, including five league titles and two Champions Leagues.

This success, however, has come at a cost, with Abramovic repeatedly balancing the books at Chelsea and bank-rolling the team to success, with loans given to the club totaling £1.5 billion during his spell as owner. Abramovic has clarified that he would not be asking for the money he has loaned Chelsea since buying the club in 2003 to be repaid. However, the Russian has reportedly set a £3 billion asking price from any suitors looking to buy the club, so it would be foolish to think he is simply waving that sum goodbye.

According to reports, Abramovic has sounded for offers plenty of times throughout his ownership tenure, but following the events in Russia and Ukraine over the past week, the penny has finally dropped. Russia’s invasion has forced Abramovic’s hand, with the billionaire wishing to sell Chelsea to protect the value of his asset and avoid any potential sanctions from the UK government. 

Abramovic has close ties to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and there have been plenty of calls in the UK parliament to place sanctions on Russian billionaires, especially those who reportedly owns 29% of a company – Evraz – that supplies the steel that manufactures Russian tanks.

Who are the prospective buyers?

In his statement, Abramovic indicated that he would sell Chelsea only to those who have the best interests of the West London club at heart. Reports suggest that the Russian is keen to start a bidding war to drive the interest, but the price is falling by the week with the looming threat of sanctions from the British government.


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New York-based firm Raine Group have been appointed to take care of the sale and a deadline of March 15 has been sent for any potential suitors to submit a proposal. US investor and part-owner of the LA Dodgers Todd Boehly has expressed interest in buying the club before and is expected to form a consortium and submit a bid to buy the club alongside Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and one other investor.

Is Chelsea a viable investment in 2022?

Unless you want to buy a football club for prestige or as a front for sports-washing, there isn’t much profit in this line of business. Chelsea have been supported and propped up by the Bank of Roman throughout the past two decades, and it is unlikely a new investor will be willing to write an £80 million cheque each year just to keep the ship afloat. Reports coming out from The Athletic suggest that any new owner would change the model of the club, pivoting to a more self-sustainable approach.

However, there would be a long list of headaches to deal with first. Chelsea currently have one of the most expensive squads in Europe, with a wage bill of over £300 million in 2020/21 and over £100 million still owed in transfer fees for the likes of Havertz, Werner and Mendy. Combine that with investment towards new players, money spent on the leveraged buyout of the club and interest payments, and any new owner would need deep pockets to survive the initial cost.


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Then there is the issue of Stamford Bridge, which is a run-down, creaking stadium in desperate need of some investment and modernisation. The Blues currently stand ninth in stadium attendances this season – 39,925 – earning roughly half of what the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal do per season in terms of matchday revenue. Any new owner coming in will have to solve this problem and fork out close to £1 billion in redevelopment costs that even Roman Abramovic thought was too rich for his blood.

Chelsea might be a blue-chip stock in the most popular football league in the world, but considering the state of their finances, any new owner coming in would be taking a massive gamble for it to succeed. Fueled by Roman’s Rubles, the past 19 years have been filled with success and trophies for the west London club. However, following the events of the past week. For the first time in a while, the future no longer looks so rosy. 


[Featured Image Credit: Chelsea Football Club]