Chelsea FC has been valued at £3 billion by Roman Abramovich, as the Russian businessman prepares to sell the Club World Cup champions after nearly two decades of ownership.
Mr Abramovich’s advisers at The Raine Group were due to send letters to potential bidders on Wednesday, according to Sky News, with an indicative bid deadline set for mid-March.
According to sources close to the process, up to eight multibillionaires have been contacted about their interest in purchasing the club, which comes as Mr Abramovich faces the risk of being sanctioned by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian is alleged to have rejected down a £2.5 billion offer for the club from an unnamed third party earlier this week, with proposals of £3 billion or more anticipated to be seriously considered.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, and Todd Boehly, an American billionaire, are among others who have indicated interest in purchasing Chelsea in the past, though it is unclear whether they are still interested.
Raine contacted a number of people, some of whom are believed to be from the United States and others from Asia.
On Tuesday, Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss announced publicly that he and three other potential bidders had been invited to review the club’s offer.
According to one insider, Mr Abramovich’s bankers are eager to close the purchase as soon as possible, possibly as soon as May.
However, given the current geopolitical context, there are concerns about the transaction’s sustainability, especially since Mr Abramovich – who has long denied any ties to the Putin administration – is also said to be selling his London property holdings.
During prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer highlighted the subject of Mr Abramovich’s ties to the Russian state, amid calls for stiffer penalties against Russian oligarchs.
Chelsea’s parent business owes around £1.5 billion in debt due to a loan from Mr Abramovich, implying that its equity worth is similarly around £1.5 billion.
Mr Abramovich announced over the weekend that he intended to commit the club’s “care and stewardship” to the nonprofit foundation’s trustees.
That plan appeared to be in jeopardy when the Charity Commission stated it would investigate the proposal, and several trustees were thought to be uncomfortable with the idea.
The plan to transfer the club to its foundation has not been abandoned, and it is likely to be pursued alongside the sale.
Mr Abramovich said in a statement released over the weekend that he has “always viewed my role as a curator of the club, whose responsibility it is to ensure that we are as successful as we can be today, while also building for the future.”
According to a source close to the club, the sale was “the correct thing to do [given the current circumstances],” and Mr Abramovich was eager to facilitate a smooth transition to a new owner who would be a good steward of Chelsea FC.
Mr. Abramovich has controlled Chelsea since 2003 and has invested record amounts of money in the club in order to ensure consistent football success.
Chelsea FC has won the Champions League twice, the Premier League and FA Cup five times, and a slew of additional trophies since he took over the club.
A request for comment was not responded to by Chelsea or a spokeswoman for Mr Abramovich.