The takeover of Chelsea Football Club has been completed – marking the end of Roman Abramovich’s 19 years of ownership at Stamford Bridge. It’s understood that a consortium led by Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital has paid £4.25bn for the Blues.
In a process overseen by the UK government, the consortium fought off “11 serious rivals” to become the new owners, the BBC reported. The sale started on 2 March and there were “more than 250 enquiries”.
When the UK government placed sanctions on Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich, over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Blues’s future was “thrown into doubt”, said Sean O’Brien on talkSPORT. But now, with the consortium paying a “record sum” for a Premier League club, it’s “expected to restore normality in west London”.
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The transaction has received all necessary approvals from the government, Premier League, and other authorities, Chelsea said in a statement. Under the terms of the agreement, Boehly and Clearlake will “share joint control and equal governance of the club”, while Boehly will serve as chairman of the holding company.
The end of Roman’s empire
Since Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, they have won “every trophy available”, Planet Football said. Before his ownership, the Blues had won “just one top-flight title and five domestic cups in the 98 years before his arrival”.
Chelsea’s 21 trophies under Abramovich leave their English rivals behind, The Independent said. Under “Roman’s empire”, the trophy cabinet at the Bridge includes: five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions League titles, two Europa Leagues, two Community Shields, one Uefa Super Cup and one Fifa Club World Cup.
Who is Todd Boehly and what’s his vision for Chelsea?
American businessman, philanthropist and investor Boehly is no stranger to elite sport – he’s also the co-owner of seven-time Major League Baseball champions the Los Angeles Dodgers, 17-time NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers, and women’s basketball team Los Angeles Sparks. The 48-year-old, who co-founded investment firm Eldridge Industries in 2015, has a personal fortune of $4.5bn (£3.57bn), according to Forbes.
Boehly said the group were “honoured” to become the new custodians of Chelsea and were “all in – 100%” of every minute of every match. “Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud.” The new owners have committed to developing the youth squad, acquiring the “best talent” and the plan of action is to “invest in the club for the long-term and build on Chelsea’s remarkable history of success”.
As well as Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the consortium includes Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the Wyss Foundation, and Mark Walter, co-founder and CEO of Guggenheim Capital. Walter is also a co-owner of the Dodgers, Lakers and Sparks.
It is expected that Marina Granovskaia, who runs Chelsea’s transfer business, and the chairman, Bruce Buck, will remain, The Guardian reported.
Ins and outs at the Bridge
With off-field matters now complete, Chelsea fans will “breathe a huge sigh of relief after a cloud of uncertainty was dispelled”, said Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail. They can now “look forward to a new era”.
Chelsea finished third in the Premier League table, qualifying for next season’s Champions League. They were, however, 19 points adrift of champions Manchester City. German head coach Thomas Tuchel, who led the club to Champions League glory last year, will be “backed by the new owners” to rebuild a squad that has been “destabilised by the sale of the club these past three months”, said Matt Lawton in The Times. Tuchel is expected to be given “as much as £200m to spend on players this summer”.
In terms of players leaving the club, it’s already been confirmed that German defender Antonio Rüdiger has agreed to join Real Madrid on a free transfer when his contract expires. Danish defender Andreas Christensen is also set to sign for Barcelona on a free.
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is another player who may be heading for the exit door. According to Sky in Italy, Inter Milan will meet Lukaku’s lawyer today to enquire about the “feasibility of a potential move back to Serie A”.
With Rudiger and Christensen set to leave and Cesar Azpilicueta’s future “uncertain”, Chelsea are facing a “centre-back crisis”, said The Telegraph. An “eight-man list” of defenders has been drawn up, which includes Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez.
The first signing of “the Todd Boehly era” could be Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele, said The Mirror. The French winger is out of contract in a few weeks and is “close” to agreeing a move to Stamford Bridge.
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