Chelsea’s sale hits a serious snag over fears Roman Abramovich is going back on his promise to write off the club’s £1.6bn debt… leaving the government concerned about their ability to play next season if a deal isn’t done soon
- Roman Abramovich said he would ‘not be asking for any loans to be repaid’
- Yet he is now reportedly claiming that the sanctions prevent him from writing off the debt, a claim which would be challenged by the government
- The government are also reportedly ‘concerned about Chelsea’s ability to compete next season if a deal isn’t done in time to safeguard the club’s future’
- The news comes with Sir Jim Ratcliffe still holding out hope of owning Chelsea after a £4.25bn bid – but American Todd Boehly remains in pole position
The sale of Chelsea is under threat amid Government fears the club’s Russian owner is backtracking on his promise to write off a £1.6billion debt.
Towards the end of last week Chelsea informed Whitehall – and the three remaining interested parties – that they wanted to restructure the way the Premier League club is being sold.
The changes would see paying off the debt from Chelsea’s parent company Fordstam Ltd to a Jersey-based company Camberley International Investments, which appears to be linked to Abramovich.
That has raised alarm from key Government figures, who are now concerned that permitting the restructuring could see Abramovich financially benefit from the sale of Chelsea.
Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government earlier this year due to his apparent links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has led the shocking invasion of Ukraine.
Chelsea’s sale has hit a serious snag over fears current owner Roman Abramovich could reportedly go back on his pledge to write off £1.6bn of debt
Sir Jim Ratcliffe (left) is still holding out hope of owning Chelsea after submitting a £4.25bn bid on Friday – but American investor Todd Boehly (right) remains the frontrunner
The government are ‘concerned about Chelsea’s ability to compete next season if a deal isn’t done in time to safeguard the club’s future’
And any scenario that would see Abramovich gain financially from the sale of Chelsea would be in breach of the terms of the Russian’s sanctioning.
Indeed, Whitehall sources were adamant on Tuesday night that they would not allow the sale of Chelsea if they believed any of the proceeds would go to Abramovich.
Abramovich had previously indicated the net proceeds of the sale would go to the victims of war in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The Russian businessman is arguing the sanctions imposed on him will prevent him from writing off Chelsea’s £1.6bn debt.
The development opens the door to significant delays to the process as the Government look to ascertain exactly who will benefit from the sale of the club in the event of the deal being restructured. Those delays could have serious consequences for Chelsea’s future.
Boris Johnson is reportedly considering giving some proceeds of the sale of Chelsea FC to grassroots football in the UK
American tycoon Todd Boehly has been selected as the preferred bidder for the club and is pressing ahead with his plans to complete a deal worth a total £3.5bn, though the last-gasp £4.25bn bid from Sir Jim Ratcliffe is set to be taken seriously should Boehly’s offer fall through.
The current operating licence for Chelsea expires on May 31 and any further delays could have serious consequences on the club’s ability to compete in the Premier League and UEFA competition next season.
While the restructuring of the sale is feasible, even at this late stage, the Government are determined to shut down any scenario which would see Abramovich earn a penny from the process.
The ownership of Camberley International Investments is unclear, but Fordstam’s latest accounts state: ‘Funding is provided by the ultimate controlling party, Mr R Abramovich.’
The accounts also states that ‘Camberley International Investments Ltd provides funding to Fordstam Ltd and its subsidiaries as required to enable the Group to continue as a going concern’.
Ratcliffe’s 11th-hour offer last week is reportedly seen as a ‘viable option’ by insiders