The Roman Abramovich era is officially at an end with US magnate Todd Boehly paying a sports franchise record £4.25billion to buy Chelsea.
Here, the PA news agency looks at how the sale was finally ratified and what happens next.
The UK Government added the final touches to Boehly’s takeover of the Stamford Bridge club on Tuesday night before confirming the issuing of a new licence on Wednesday morning to allow his consortium to complete the west London club purchase.
Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich was sanctioned by Downing Street on March 10, with the UK Government claiming to have proven his links to Russia president Vladimir Putin amid the war in Ukraine. Abramovich’s UK assets have been frozen ever since, apart from Chelsea, with the Blues only able to operate under a strict temporary licence until the sale was completed.
The Government has confirmed the £2.5billion sale proceeds will be “used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine”. Abramovich has already tasked former UNICEF UK executive director Mike Penrose with setting up an independent charitable foundation, insisting the sheer scale of investment could “change the face of humanitarian aid”.
Abramovich has loaned Chelsea £1.5billion, and pledged to write off that debt when putting the club up for sale on March 2. The Government has demanded extensive oversight on those plans, given the conditions of the sanctions. Abramovich and his lawyers were eventually able to alleviate Government concerns about that write-off process though.
Chelsea’s new controlling owner is the co-founder of Eldridge Industries financial firm, based in Connecticut. The US billionaire owns a stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball franchise, and will now head up the Blues’ new ownership. Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss, Clearlake Capital investment firm and Boehly’s fellow Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter are the other main players in the consortium. Co-founder Behdad Eghbali will take the lead on Chelsea matters for California firm Clearlake.
Boehly has already had initial meetings with men’s and women’s coaches Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes, but he will want to follow up and thrash out planning for the short, medium and long term. The double-winning women’s team have most of the building blocks in place for next term, but the men’s team requires some rapid recruitment work.
Chelsea need at least one senior centre-back recruit, with Sevilla’s Jules Kounde likely to be headed to Stamford Bridge. Both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are leaving west London however, so the Blues will cast their eyes around for another top-level defensive addition too. The futures of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso must be resolved, with both drawing strong interest from Barcelona. And Chelsea must weigh up whether to stick with their current roster of forwards, or make several sales to free up opportunity for further new arrivals.