May 4 – The imminent sale of Chelsea is reported to have hit a potential snag over fears that owner Roman Abramovich might renege on his pledge to write off a £1.6 billion debt.
The Russian oligarch announced in March that he would waive the debt and donate proceeds of the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine
But The Times newspaper says Abramovich is claiming that UK government-imposed sanctions against him prevent him from being able to write off the debt with a deal reportedly needed to be completed in the coming days.
Meanwhile, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is not giving up on his bid to buy the club even though it came in after the deadline.
The Times says Ratcliffe is meeting Chelsea fan groups this week and is making the point that the preferred bid by a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, would lead to 66% of the club falling into the hands of private equity investors in the US.
Boehly is backed by venture capitalists Clearwater Holdings in a deal sanctioned by US financial advisors the Raine Group.
The most important factor now is whether any deal can be done in time to safeguard Chelsea’s future with the club currently under a transfer ban and many players soon out of contract.
Julian Knight, chair of the UK government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told the Financial Times: “Any continuity with the Abramovich regime at Chelsea is certainly an unsettling development.”
“There needs to be clarity surrounding the process to ensure that everything is being done to the letter.”
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