The sale of Chelsea looks increasingly likely to be completed this week with the British government optimistic that Roman Abramovich’s £1.6 billion (€1.8 billion) loan to the club will not go to the Russian or his family.
There had been fears that a takeover by Todd Boehly’s consortium would fall through because of delays caused by the debt owed by Chelsea’s parent company, Fordstam Ltd, to Camberley International Investments, a Jersey-based company with suspected links to Abramovich. Government insiders last week voiced concerns over the club going out of business if the deadline for a deal to be completed was not met.
However, after exhaustive talks there is now growing confidence that Abramovich will agree to legally binding guarantees that would allow the money to be placed in a frozen account under government control. Chelsea, whose special operating licence expires on May 31st, need government approval for the sale to go through.
The British government has proposed a two-stage process in which the £2.5 billion (€2.9 billion) from the sale to Boehly’s group would go into an escrow account, where it would be held until it is satisfied the funds will go to a charity for victims of the war in Ukraine.
It is expected that the charity will be established after the sale has gone through and assurances have been made that the foundation will be independent from Abramovich, who was sanctioned following the invasion of Ukraine. Mike Penrose, the former Unicef UK executive director, has been asked to run the charity.
Chelsea, whose prospective new owners were on the pitch after last Sunday’s win over Watford, have been in limbo since Abramovich was sanctioned. They are unable to buy or sell players or hand out new contracts, and have been unable to sell new tickets to home games at Stamford Bridge.
Indications that the sale is close to completion will come as a major boost to Thomas Tuchel, who has warned that Chelsea will be behind their rivals when the transfer window opens this summer.
Tuchel believes they must act quickly once they are under new ownership. Chelsea will be under pressure to strengthen their defence as Antonio Rüdiger has signed for Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen is joining Barcelona, who also want Marcos Alonso and Cesár Azpilicueta.