Chelsea’s proposed sale to one of a number of bidders has been reportedly held up after owner Roman Abramovich made a claim for the £1.6 billion the club owes him.
When Abramovich took over the club he made a series of loans to Chelsea which he had never appeared keen to call in, but which in theory he could have requested from the club.
Those loans totalled £1.6bn at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, and Abramovich reacted swiftly to potential punishments.
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Initially the Russian billionaire, an associate of his country’s president, Vladimir Putin, put the club into the guardianship of Chelsea’s board, which had no legal basis. Abramovich then put the club up for sale, and in turn had his assets frozen by the British government after a string of sanctions hit the Russian state and prominent citizens.
It had been believed that Abramovich would write off the debt, and said net proceeds from the takeover would go to a charitable organisation for those affected by the war in Ukraine.
However, there was never any clarity on how the deal might take place given the sanctions Abramovich was hit with.
Multiple sources claim that the oligarch now wants the debt to be paid back to the parent club of Chelsea , which he still owns despite it being frozen. It currently appears impossible for any money to be paid to him without breaking the sanctions, which would potential legal trouble for any consortium that succeeds with a bid.
The government has given special dispensation for the club to keep running but if there is no deal this summer then feasibly no further licence could be issued.
Boehly’s consortium have an exclusivity agreement and are preferred bidders, but it does not appear there is a simple solution to untangle the purchase of the club and the permitted flow of money. There were also reports that Abramovich asked for another half a billion pounds to be paid to a charitable foundation for those affected by the invasion.
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