LA Dodgers owner to buy Chelsea FC for $3 Billion

Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly watches a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Los Angeles on April 30, 2022. (Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo)

Chelsea will be sold to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, ending 19 years of ownership and significant investment by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. He was sanctioned and forced to sell the Premier League team due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The sale price of $3.1 billion for the reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions and 2021 European champions is the most ever for a sports team, but Abramovich cannot accept the earnings, which he hopes will go to a fund for war victims. Following two months of quick discussions to sell the west London club since Russia invaded Ukraine, an additional 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) has been committed to investing in Chelsea's teams and stadiums.

After several competing bids were rejected, Chelsea announced on Saturday that buyout negotiations had been reached with a group comprised of Boehly, Dodgers primary owner Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, and private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

The Premier League and the government must approve the new ownership per the conditions of the license that allows Chelsea to continue operations through May 31, despite being one of Abramovich's frozen assets.

Abramovich has stated that he will forgive Chelsea loans totaling more than $1.9 billion. However, this is complicated by sanctions imposed by the British government as part of a crackdown on wealthy Russians with ties to President Vladimir Putin. The side of Abramovich portrayed him as a potential peacemaker, but that trail has gone cold in recent weeks, and the billionaire has not condemned the conflict.

The fines have hindered Chelsea's ability to sell match tickets and commit to a new player investment. Thus the club expects the sale to close by late May.

"As confirmed by Roman Abramovich, proceeds will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention of donating 100 percent to charitable causes," Chelsea said in a statement.

Boehly is already in London and was anticipated to watch Saturday's Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge. The club led by Thomas Tuchel sits third in the standings with four games remaining. The championship is unattainable, but Champions League qualification is almost assured.

Chelsea's stadium is the most minor and outdated of the Premier League's most successful clubs. Abramovich delayed plans to replace the 41,000-seat venue in 2018 as British-Russian political tensions intensified.

Chelsea's 1.75 billion pounds pledged will fund investments at Stamford Bridge, the academy, and the women's team, which might win the league championship on Sunday.

Boehly is a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Lakers and Sparks of the NBA and WNBA.

The difficulty will be sustaining the regularity of Chelsea's trophy production, which has resulted in the collection of 21 trophies in the past 19 years.

When Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003, the team had won the league title only once, in 1955. Two years later, with the assistance of pricey additions, the club won the Premier League championship and has acquired four more players since then, most recently in 2017.

The rivalry among affluent owners to acquire and retain players is intensifying. Since 2008, Manchester City has received funding from Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia's national wealth fund purchased Newcastle last year.

Chelsea, which was the first Premier League team to benefit from a mega-wealthy foreign owner in 2003, has released no information regarding its future day-to-day leadership.

Boehly, who attended the London School of Economics, co-founded the investment business Eldridge Industries in 2015 and served as its chairman and chief executive officer. The private holding firm has investments in more than 70 businesses, including those in sports, entertainment, and media.

In addition to the Los Angeles clubs, Boehly holds minority investments in the esports organization Cloud9 and the American fantasy sports betting company DraftKings.

He is the chairman of Security Benefit, a Topeka, Kansas-based retirement solutions provider, and MRC, an entertainment firm that finances and produces film and television programming, including the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards, among others.

Penske Media, which owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter, is one of MRC's additional assets.

Before co-founding Eldridge, Boehly led Guggenheim Partners as president. Walter, who acquired Chelsea alongside Boehly, is the chief executive officer of the financial services organization.

Next Saturday will be their first chance to witness Chelsea win a trophy. The opponent in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium is Liverpool.

Publish : 2022-05-09 12:23:00

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