The Premier League soccer club Chelsea is expected to be sold for over $3 billion to a consortium headed by an American billionaire, the biggest price ever paid for a sports franchise.
The franchise announced Friday night that it has agreed to sell to a new ownership group led by Todd Boehly, a billionaire American investor and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The partnership comprises Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ majority owner, and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss.
From a mid-table Premier League club to one of the top teams in the world, Roman Abramovich transformed Chelsea with players like John Terry, Didier Drogba, and N’Golo Kanté.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich claimed he would sell the club, but his assets, including Chelsea, were blocked by the British government. The government gave Chelsea a permission to continue functioning as usual, but Abramovich will not profit from any sale of the club.
This deal is still subject to “all requisite regulatory approvals,” which is usually a throwaway term, but might have huge implications here.
According to a statement from Chelsea, Boehly and his firm paid 2.5 billion British pounds, or little over $3 billion.
But it’s unclear how that would operate, if Russians would be beneficiaries, or how British regulators would ensure no money went to Abramovich. The proceeds from the transaction will be deposited into a government-frozen account.
Abramovich recruited and mostly left senior Chelsea personnel in place to operate the club.
Boehly, 48, amassed a fortune in investment banking and venture finance before establishing Eldridge Industries in 2015. Boehly has minority shares in the Dodgers, Lakers, and Sparks, but Chelsea will be his first sports club to oversee.
The new ownership group would spend over $2 billion on the club, including stadiums, youth academy, women’s squad, and foundation, according to a statement announcing the sale.
Chelsea picked Boehly’s company as the preferred bidder last week following a frantic selling process. Steve Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics, and Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, also wanted to acquire Chelsea.