Roman Abramovich is willing to listen to Chelsea’s offers amid mounting pressure on his ownership Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukrainesources told ESPN.
The 55-year-old tried to dismiss the club from a possible personal punishment from the UK government by passing Chelsea’s ‘oversight and care’ to its trustees on Saturday.
However, sources told ESPN that trustees are seeking legal advice before responding to Abramovich’s instructions due to concerns that a charity is not an appropriate entity to run a football club.
Meanwhile, Abramovich is understood to be seriously considering selling Chelsea with the UK government under mounting pressure to freeze the assets of Russian high net worth individuals in England with any alleged links to Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich has always vehemently denied any ties to the Putin regime, and Chelsea have repeatedly insisted that the club is not for sale.
The club did not respond to a request for clarification of this situation when contacted by ESPN on Wednesday.
However, if the UK government does act and sanction Abramovich, as one of his assets, Chelsea will be frozen meaning he will not be able to sell the club or pump any money into the club – something that will have major repercussions for the club.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140 million. The club’s latest accounts show it owes 1.514 billion pounds in loans through parent company Fordstam Limited, which it controls.
When Chelsea announced their latest accounts – a £145.6m after-tax loss for the year ending June 30, 2021 despite winning the Champions League – the club admitted at the time that it was “relying on Fordstam Limited for its continued financial support”.
Swiss business magnate Hansjoerg Weiss claimed that Abramovich contacted interested parties on Tuesday to solicit potential interest.
“Abramovic is currently trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly now. I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich,” Swiss newspaper Blick quoted Wes as saying. He said in an interview published on Wednesday.
Sources told ESPN that Abramovich has told potential buyers in the past that he values the club at around £3 billion.
Wes added: “Abramović is asking too much at the moment. You know: Chelsea owes him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. That means: those who buy Chelsea must replace Abramovich.”
American businessman Todd Boley was interested in buying a Premier League club before the coronavirus pandemic, and spoke of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur only to turn down his interest.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man according to a Forbes study from 2021, has had preliminary talks with Abramovich about a possible buyout.
“We were a long way from the ratings,” Ratcliffe’s brother Bob, who runs his company INEOS’ football division, told BBC Radio 5live last month.
Another complicating factor for another buyer is the difficulty of renovating Stamford Bridge. Abramovich’s complex plans to redevelop the 41,800-seat stadium – which included demolishing the existing structure and rebuilding a 61,000-seater venue – in 2018 around the time his UK investor visa expires. The owners of Chelsea Stadiums retain freehold ownership of the site and therefore will not be included in any sale of the club.
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