Chelsea sale in doubt after report suggests Abramovich will go back on £1.6bn loan promise

Jason Soutar
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich at a match

The sale of Chelsea has reportedly hit a huge obstacle due to fears that Roman Abramovich will go back on his promise to write off his £1.6billion debt.

The Blues’ owner put the club up for sale, setting a £3bn asking price while also writing off the £1.5bn debt the club owe him.

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However, the Russian oligarch was sanctioned by the UK government due to his alleged ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich’s sanctions mean that all of his assets have been frozen with Chelsea able to operate under a special license.

According to The Times, Chelsea have told the government, and rival bidders for the club’s ownership, that they want to restructure the way the Premier League club is being sold.

This would include paying off debt from Chelsea’s parent company Fordsham Ltd to a Jersey-based company Camberley International Investments, which appears to have links to Abramovich.

There are, unsurprisingly, concerns over whether this will be allowed to happen due to Abramovich’s UK sanctions.

Ministers have been under the impression that all proceeds from the sale would go to the government who would provide it to many causes, including helping those affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine as well as grassroots football in the UK.

When Abramovich announced that he would put the club up for sale, he said in a statement: “I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid.”

However, the oligarch is reportedly claiming that the sanctions are stopping him from writing off the debt, with the government expected to challenge him on this.

Chelsea’s special licence runs out on May 31, with a sale needing to be agreed before then. It is widely expected that the government will not extend the deadline.

The Raine Group and Chelsea have both expected the sale to remain on course to meet that deadline.

Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly’s consortium bid is understood to have been selected as preferred bidder by the Raine Group, the New York merchant bank overseeing Chelsea’s sale.

Boehly has edged ahead of bids from Sir Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca to receive the preferred bidder status that inches the US tycoon ever closer to a takeover.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s last-minute bid on Friday has given pause to the entire sale process however, with Britain’s richest man understood to be pressing on with his candidacy to buy the Blues.