Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale and wants around £3billion for the club.
Chelsea believe a sale to a US tycoon is their best route, despite Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss claiming he has been offered the chance to join a £2bn consortium with ‘six or seven’ other investors to buy the club.
Russian oligarch Abramovich, who bought the club in 2003, has previously turned down offers worth £2.2bn for Chelsea, while the club’s debt to him is £1.51bn. It is believed a US merchant bank has been put in charge of selling the club, with parties encouraged to make their bids by the end of the week.
Wyss, an 86-year-old medical magnate worth a reported £4.3bn, has admitted interest in purchasing the Stamford Bridge club from Abramovich, but only in a consortium.
Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich had publicly expressed his desire to retain ownership of Chelsea, but that could prove close to impossible should the UK Government impose sanctions on the 55-year-old.
Wyss has admitted he will look into the details of any possible deal to buy Chelsea, with the asking price thought to push beyond £2billion.
‘Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,’ Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick.
‘I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich. I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price.’
Abramovich attempted to step back from the daily running of Chelsea on Saturday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Blues boss has tried to hand the ‘stewardship and care’ of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation trustees.
That led the Charity Commission to contact the Stamford Bridge club for more detail on Abramovich’s plans, after several of the trustees raised concerns over technicalities.
Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for the UK Government to impose sanctions on Abramovich after a number of Russian oligarchs have already fallen under such penalties. Abramovich is understood to have attempted to hand control of Chelsea to the foundation trustees in a bid to protect the club.
The Chelsea owner would not receive any protection from sanctions through stepping away from daily control at Stamford Bridge.
Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that Chelsea trustees will insist on an impenetrable indemnity policy before agreeing to Abramovich’s plan to pass over stewardship of the club to its charitable foundation.
Abramovich’s proposal, which was announced on Saturday night, is in the balance with a number of trustees extremely apprehensive about accepting stewardship of the Stamford Bridge club.
One of the main conditions the trustees will insist on is the inclusion of a robust indemnity insurance policy to ensure they are not liable for any financial ramifications the club may suffer while they are put in charge. Trustees hold a number of concerns in relation to Abramovich’s plan, which was sprung on the trustees with very little notice on Saturday night.
Conflict of interest is understood to be among the key apprehensions, while the morality of being the face of a football club and business that has been linked to the Russian regime that has invaded Ukraine is another major consideration for trustees. However, the sheer responsibility of playing such a key role within a business that turned over £434.8million for the previous financial year is known to be the leading concern amongst a number of trustees.
As revealed, Chelsea has instructed lawyers to start building the legal framework to facilitate Abramovich’s stewardship recommendation and those individuals in line will seek a strong protection policy before agreeing.
During the interim there will be a period of status quo, which will allow trustees who include: Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, John Devine, a partner at the law firm Muckle LLP, club director of finance Paul Ramos, women’s head coach Emma Hayes, executive director of anti-discrimination group Fare, Piara Powar, and the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson, time to consider whether they want to be part of the process. Chelsea are aware of the problems they may face in convincing trustees and are said to be exploring other options.