Chelsea sale: Government demands assurances before approving Todd Boehly-led takeover

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Prospective Chelsea owner Todd Boehly (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)
Prospective Chelsea owner Todd Boehly (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

The UK government still requires legal assurances that the money from the Chelsea sale will go to charity, and not to Roman Abramovich, before the Todd Boehly-led takeover can go through.

While there is “hope” there will be movement in “the coming days”, The Independent has been told a deal has not yet been struck.

Numerous discussions are happening every day, with all sides conscious of the 31 May deadline for a licence that will allow Chelsea to operate. While Abramovich has stated that he is willing to write off the £1.6billion debt owed to him, and that the money would go to a charitable fund, the view within government is that there is currently a gap between the sanctioned oligarch’s public statements and what is in writing, legally.

The two sides continue to work on this with the clock ticking, but worst-case scenarios are not currently envisaged despite that pressure.

The government just needs to ensure the takeover is completely clean, with no risk that money can go to a sanctioned individual – a status that will not be changing any time soon.

Chelsea’s temporary government licence expires on 31 May, with the date acting as a hard deadline for the sale. The new owners would also need to go through the Premier League’s owners and directors test before that.

A consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly struck a purchase agreement to buy Chelsea for £4.25bn on 7 May, having won a unique race. Long-time Chelsea directors Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck had a significant say in the process, which was overseen by the Raine Group, and are likely to stay on in the new regime – at the very least for a transition period.

That should also ensure that Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes stay on as managers of the men’s and women’s teams respectively.

On the side of the buyers, there is a certain wariness about the situation, but that is offset by an optimism the deal will go through.