Todd Boehly has agreed to buy Chelsea for up to £4 billion in a transaction that will be submitted to the government for approval following a week of heated negotiations.
Only two more hurdles remain for Boehly and his consortium to officially take control the club from Roman Abramovich, with the American need approval from the UK Government and the Premier League.
Following the conclusion of an owners’ and directors’ test, the League is anticipated to approve the Boehly buyout, but first the Government must give a new license for the sale of Chelsea. Todd Boehly is on track to complete his takeover by the end of the month, with just over three weeks left on the club’s current operating license, which expires on May 31.
While the transaction is not yet complete, the signing of the purchase agreement is considered the most important stage in the process thus far. It is effectively a promise that transfers the seller’s shares to the buyer with a deadline for completion.
After agreeing to a variety of ‘anti-Glazer’ stipulations that should allay any outside suspicions or criticisms over the presence of the American investment firm Clearlake Capital, Todd Boehly and his group signed the papers on Friday, a week after being identified as Chelsea’s preferred bidder.
The clauses are thought to prevent the Bohely consortium, which also includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, American businessman Mark Walker, and British entrepreneur Jonathan Goldstein, from paying dividends or management fees until 2032, prohibit the sale of any shares in the club for ten years, and set strict debt limits.
The provisions have been dubbed ‘anti-Glazer’ clauses, according to a newspaper, and will protect Chelsea against the type of controversies that have plagued Manchester United since the Glazer family’s contentious 2005 purchase.
They also answer some of the points raised by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who attempted to hijack the Chelsea sale last week and questioned whether an investment firm should be able to own a Premier League club.
According to reports, Clearlake Capital will possess 60% of Chelsea shares, with Boehly maintaining operational control, however this has never been confirmed by his group, the club, or Raine, the deal’s banker.
Boehly, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers, and his company are thought to have paid about £2.5 billion for Chelsea and have committed to an additional £1 billion investment in the club’s stadium, playing squads, and academy.
Following Abramovich’s denial that he had broken his pledge to write off Chelsea’s £1.6 billion loan, the purchase deal was signed.
The government had previously questioned his motives, but now appears willing to consider a “backstop” to allow their debt battle with Abramovich to continue after the sale was approved.
“Firstly, Mr Abramovich’s intentions in relation to giving the money from the Chelsea sale to charity have not changed,” Abramovich’s representative stated in a statement on Chelsea’s website in response to Government concerns voiced this week.
His team went on to say that the Russian had already started the process of establishing a foundation, as he had promised when he put the club up for sale eight weeks ago, prior to the sanctions.
“Since the first announcement, Mr. Abramovich’s team has chosen top members from UN entities and big worldwide philanthropic organizations who have been entrusted with founding a foundation and laying out a plan for its activities,” according to the statement “the statement continued “The principal independent expert has met with government officials to present the structure and preliminary plans. Mr. Abramovich was not involved in this project, which was overseen by specialists with extensive experience working in humanitarian organizations.”
“He has not requested for any loan to be repaid to him,” the official stated, “and accusations that Mr Abramovich increased the price of the club last minute are completely incorrect.”
Other individuals connected to the bids told Telegraph Sport and numerous other media outlets last week that a late £500 million price increase demand had been made. It is now claimed that late discussions were solely centered on future club financial pledges.
“As part of Mr Abramovich’s objective to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he has encouraged each bidder to commit to investing in the Club – including the academy, women’s team, necessary stadium redevelopment, and maintaining the work of Chelsea Foundation – throughout this process.” “Added Abramovich’s spokesperson.
According to sources familiar with the conversations, Abramovich never intended to give the idea that he wanted to repay the loan to himself.