Chelsea: Todd Boehly closes in on takeover as Roman Abramovich prepares to seek government approval

American businessman Boehly is set to complete a deal worth around £4billion to secure the club, which will then need to be signed by the Treasury.

Abramovich’s intervention came after a week of fears that the sale could fail because of the debts owed to him.

The oligarch – who has been sanctioned for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin – has pledged to keep his initial promise to donate all proceeds to charity, although he did not specify the support to the victims of the war in Ukraine.

Abramovich is preparing to seek formal government approval for the deal.

His belief that he is not seeking repayment of personal loans made in his nearly 20 years of ownership should allay concerns within Whitehall.

It also signals the possible end of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s hopes of hijacking Boehly’s offer.

The timing of the statement appears significant, with Boehly widely expected to sign a deal after being named preferred bidder by US investment bank Raine Group.

The LA Dodgers baseball team co-owner was involved in a five-day period of exclusive negotiations before reaching a final deal, which is expected to be worth around £4billion.

Ratcliffe this week tried to pressure Raine to consider his rival candidacy – even holding “positive” talks with the government.

But Boehly was given the only opportunity to complete his own proposal after weeks of talks with the bank, Chelsea executives and fan groups.

As the businessman, who is backed by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, British property developer Jonathan Goldstein and investment firm Clearlake Capital, has fine-tuned his offer, the process has been overshadowed by doubts over intentions of Abramovich regarding the sale proceeds.

But the Russian’s silence was broken yesterday as he tried to clear up the confusion, as well as explain the demands Abramovich personally made to potential buyers.

“Mr Abramovich’s intentions regarding donating the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea to charity have not changed,” his spokesman said.

“Mr. Abramovich did not ask for any loans to be repaid to him – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr. Abramovich raised the price of the club at the last minute.

“As part of Mr Abramovich’s aim to find a good goalkeeper for Chelsea FC, however, he has encouraged every candidate throughout this process to commit to investing in the club – including the Academy , the women’s team, the necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of the Chelsea Foundation.

Addressing the £1.5billion loan, Abramovich’s spokesman added: “Following the sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since the announcement of the sale of the club, the loan also became subject to EU sanctions, requiring additional approvals.

“This means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by the authorities. These funds are always intended for the (charitable) Foundation. The government is aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.

“To be clear, Mr. Abramovich has no access to or control over these funds and will have no access to or control over these funds after the sale. Despite the changed circumstances since his initial announcement, he remains committed to finding a good goalkeeper for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes.

standard Sport

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