Politicial Bribes

Who owns Chelsea? Who is Todd Boehly and what happened to Roman Abramovich?

Chelsea are set to play their fifth FA Cup final in the past six seasons against Liverpool on May 14 – and while they are poised to succeed on the pitch, their off-pitch situation was far more complicated in 2021-22.

Longtime Russian owner Roman Abramovich decided to sell Chelsea just before the British government imposed sanctions that complicated the sale process.

Chelsea continued to play in front office turmoil, winning the FIFA Club World Cup in February and the UEFA Super Cup at the start of the season. They were also among the best teams in the Premier League, virtually securing a top-four spot.

Now that the uncertainty around Chelsea ownership is starting to clear, and The Sporting News explains everything you need to know.

Who owns Chelsea?

A group of investors led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly are taking over Chelsea FC from Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who owned the Premier League club since 2003.

The deal for Boehly to succeed Abramovich is expected to be formally approved by the UK government and the Premier League by the end of May.

Boehly, a 46-year-old American businessman, is worth around $4.5 billion, according to Forbes.

He is heavily involved in American professional sports, including co-ownership of the Major League Baseball team LA Dodgers as part of the Guggenheim Baseball Management ownership consortium. His personal stake in this club would be 20%.

Boehly notably struck a major deal in 2013, between Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers to create SportsNet LA, a regional network to carry all LA Dodgers content.

He also owns a minority stake in legendary NBA basketball team LA Lakers and the Sparks, with his ownership group alongside Mark Walters buying a 27% stake in the club.

How much did Todd Boehly pay to buy Chelsea?

According to figures shared by the club in a statement released on May 6, Boehly’s group are buying the club in a deal worth $5.25bn (£4.25m), making it the most expensive team transaction in sports.

A total of $3.1 billion will go towards taking over Abramovich’s club stock and the rest will be invested in the club.

Why is Roman Abramovich selling Chelsea?

As a Russian oligarch, Abramovich came under increased government scrutiny after Russia invaded Ukraine and he finally decided on March 2 to put Chelsea up for sale in the interests of the club. .

But on March 10, the UK government announced sanctions that essentially froze Abramovich’s assets, including Chelsea football club.

The Premier League side, while owned by Abramovich, could not generate any new revenue streams and any anticipated income had to be frozen.

This meant the club could not sell new tickets or merchandise, but existing agreements would continue to be honoured, including for season ticket holders and tickets sold before March 10.

The UK government offered a special sports license so that Chelsea could continue to operate as a football club despite the sanctions, but they laid out an extensive list of restrictions as part of it.

Among those restrictions was a transfer ban, with the club unable to transfer or acquire players. Additionally, travel expenses for football games have been capped at $26,000 per game.

Will Roman Abramovich benefit from the sale of Chelsea?

No. Under the UK sanctions imposed on Abramovich, he cannot legally benefit financially from the sale of his Chelsea Football Club asset or any other assets he owns in the UK.

Abramovich has already confirmed his intention to donate the proceeds from the eventual sale to charity.

Chelsea confirmed the $3.1 billion would be “deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention of donating 100% to charitable causes, as confirmed by Roman Abramovich”.

Roman Abramovich Chelsea

Who is Roman Abramovich?

Born in 1966 in Saratov, Russia, a major port city in the southwest of the country, Abramovich is a Russian billionaire, best known for his role as owner of Premier League club Chelsea.

Abramovich acquired his wealth through various investments and is known for his ability to buy and sell businesses and various assets for profit.

The 55-year-old has made friends in high places during his career, best known for his friendships with former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and current President Vladimir Putin, although his camp has denied links with Putin in the past.

For a time during Yeltsin’s presidency, Abramovich lived in an apartment inside the Kremlin at Yeltsin’s request. Based on Richard Sakwa’s 2019 book The crisis of Russian democracyit was Abramovich who first identified to Yeltsin that Putin should be his successor.

According to Forbes in 2019, Abramovich’s net worth was around $12.9 billion, making him the 11th richest person in Russia.

Abramovich has had his fair share of issues over the years. In 2008, The Times reported that he had paid billions of dollars in political bribes and protection fees in exchange for shares in Russia’s oil and aluminum assets, according to court documents.

He has also had run-ins with Russia’s antimonopoly service, while his stakes in various companies in the steel, coal mining and natural gas sectors have seen Abramovich clash with climate change groups. .

When did Roman Abramovich buy Chelsea?

Roman Abramovich first took ownership of Chelsea FC in June 2003. Through a 100% stake in British holding company Fordstam Limited, Abramovich bought the club from Ken Bates, who in turn bought Leeds United.

Since taking over, Chelsea have won 18 trophies, including two Champions League titles, five Premier League championships and, most recently, the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup.

Abramovich’s massive investment in the club made Chelsea a perennial world power, but it cost the club dearly. Chelsea owe a monstrous $2 billion in debt to Abramovich, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

Frank Lampard, John Terry, Roman Abramovich

The Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea

During Abramovich’s reign, Chelsea became a perennial European and global powerhouse in club football.

Since Abramovich took over the club in 2003, Chelsea have finished in the top four of the Premier League table in all but three seasons. Moreover, the club collected 18 major trophies during his tenure, including two Champions League titles.

The Russian billionaire was known for his quick trigger finger when it came to managers, with Chelsea having 14 different head coaches during his 19 years in charge (including one stint by Rafa Benitez and two by Guus Hiddink with the label “temp worker”).

The longest-serving manager under Abramovich’s reign was Jose Mourinho, whose three seasons between 2004 and 2007 still represent the longest span for any manager with Abramovich as boss.

But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich’s ownership of the club came under fire as the international community tried to punish Russia for its actions.

Questions about the wartime situation and Abramovich’s involvement were beginning to plague the club, with Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitting the situation was ‘distracting’ in late February before growing increasingly frustrated with questions repeated at a press conference in early March.

Abramovich reportedly sought to reduce his presence in Western Europe before he was hit with sanctions, and as part of this the Chelsea owner decided to sell the club “in the best interests of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as sponsors and partners of the club.”

He first tried to steer the club away from their problems in late February when he announced he would be handing over the “custody and care” of the club to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation, but the brief and vague statement did not go down. only raised more questions than it answered. And the administrators weren’t necessarily willing to take on that responsibility.

A few days later, on March 2, he announced he was selling, and despite the high price, many willing bidders were invited to submit their bids quickly in a sales process managed by Raine Group on behalf of of Abramovich.

According to the latest Forbes valuation, Chelsea were worth $3.2 billion in 2021, up from $760 million in 2012.