Some late obstacles must be overcome before Chelsea moves on from the Roman Abramovich era
The Chelsea takeover saga has hit some last minute road blocks according to sources from within the UK government, but there remains a high degree of confidence that the deal will be completed before fast-approaching deadlines which would complicate matters further.
Boris Johnson’s government could approve the deal as early as Tuesday, per the BBC, but late hurdles related to Roman Abramovich’s Portuguese citizenship have meant that authorities there must also approve the Pound 4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) sale before it can be officially signed off on.
Abramovich, who purchased the Premier League side in 2003, announced his decision to sell the club in March shortly before he was sanctioned by the UK government due to perceived links to the Kremlin in the aftermath of the onset of the military campaign in Ukraine.
Chelsea was subsequently awarded a special license to continue operation, though this expires on May 31 – a date which has become a de-facto deadline for a takeover to be completed.
Several interested parties has announced their candidacy to push forward with a deal to buy the club, with the group fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly eventually being hand-picked as Abramovich’s successor.
Both Boehly and another member of the group, Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss, were present at the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium for their final Premier League game of the season on Sunday.
It had been reported last week that the takeover was in jeopardy after supposed disagreements between Abramovich’s representatives in the sale and the UK government amid concerns that the destination of the money involved in the deal was uncertain.
However, the government’s version of events was strenuously denied by Abramovich who is now understood to have provided evidence that he will not personally profit from the sale.
The money will instead go to a frozen account controlled by the UK government.
“Everyone wants to get the deal done, but with the complicated nature of the deal and the Chelsea ownership structures, nothing is simple,” the BBC quoted an anonymous government source as saying.
“We are working hard to assure our international partners who rightly want their own assurances on this deal and of course how the proceeds will eventually be spent.
“Time is rapidly running out, this deal has to get done by the end of Tuesday, otherwise major football deadlines may be missed and the club will be at risk.”
With various UEFA and Premier League deadlines for next season’s competitions fast approaching, representatives from the club and the government will be furiously working to iron out any late wrinkles in the deal.
READ MORE: It will be ‘criminal’ if politics derail Chelsea sale, says charity chief
Confidence remains high that the takeover will be completed in advance of any deadlines – but the last minute hitch related to Abramovich’s Portuguese passport is just the latest speed bump to be cleared in what is one of the biggest sporting takeovers in history.
The Roman Era will soon come to an end in West London one way or another, with Boehly and co. hoping that it comes without further headaches as they look to plot for next season as they navigate out of some of most turbulent weeks in the club’s history.