Chelsea sale: How much can Russia's Roman Abramovich get for Ukraine charity
Under pressure as a close aide of Vladimir Putin in the private sector, and as a target of sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has announced he will be selling the London-based football club.
In a statement released on the Chelsea website, Abramovich says he took this decision as he believes this "is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club's sponsors and partners."
"This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club," said Abramovich.
The Russian oligarch also said that he would be forgiving all loans owed by Chelsea to him personally, as well as donating any proceeds from the sale to a charitable foundation which will be set up to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
"The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine," said Abramovich. "This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery."
Chelsea is thought to be valued around the 2 billion pound mark, and the owner's decision to forgive loans worth over 1.5 billion pounds is a grand gesture. However, as he made clear in the statement, Abramovich will not be fast-tracking the sale.
According to a report on Sky Sports, Abramovich has asked The Raine Group to handle the sale, with letters of intent going out to up to 8 multibillionaires for the sale. He is looking to have initial bids finalised by mid-March. Bids of over 3 billion pounds will be taken seriously, and apparently a bid of 2.5 billion pounds has already been rejected.
If Chelsea is sold at the price Abramovich is asking for, it would be the largest sale of an English football club ever. He bought the club for just 140 million pounds back in 2003.
However, consultancy firm KPMG has valued the company at 2.1 billion pounds, similar to the valuation of publicly listed Manchester United. As recently as October 2021, Saudi Arabia paid 300 million pounds for 80 percent of fellow Premier League club Newcastle United.
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has claimed to be one of the billionaires who Chelsea reached out to for a sale. However, he too has said that price is currently too expensive for him. "Abramovich is currently asking far too much," said Wyss.
"As of today, we don't know the exact selling price. I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first," continued Wyss. "But what I can already say: I'm definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors."
In related news, Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who sold his stake in another London-based football club, Arsenal, for 550 million pounds in 2018, has had his $600 million yacht Dilbar seized by German authorities.