Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich confirmed on March 2 that he’s actively seeking new buyers to transfer his ownership of Chelsea F.C., which he's maintained since purchasing the club in 2003. With his wealth amassed from Russia’s oil and aluminum industries, Chelsea won numerous Premier League and Champions League titles by recruiting a rolodex of star players (and managers) over the years.
According to The New York Times, Chelsea is seeking at least $2.5 billion for the sale and interested buyers have been asked to submit their offers to Raine Group, their New York advisory firm, by March 4. The Club is said to be valued at roughly $3.2 Billion.
The news comes amid speculation of the British government’s sanctions of Abramovich for his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin, which the owner denies.
Abramovich’s abrupt announcement of the sale and the speed at which he wishes to proceed is confounding even internal staff, according to reports, but he stressed that the sale is only “in the best interest of the Club.”
This also immediately follows March 1's press conference, wherein Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel “snapped at reporters” for asking questions about the Club’s Russian owner in light of the military attacks on Ukraine.
Most noteworthy is Abramovich’ declaration to donate all net proceeds of the sale to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.
In a statement published just hours before Chelsea’s FA Cup match with Luton Town, Abramovich wrote:
The sale of the Club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process... This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club. Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery. Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.
Potential named buyers are Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss (who wants a group of six or seven co-investors) and Todd Boehly, part-owner of the LA Dodgers.
Even former UFC star Conor McGregor also expressed interest, less than a year after tweeting he was also “thinking about buying Manchester United,” but it’s unlikely that he can afford either club.
Despite Abramovich’s speculated ties to Putin, Chelsea fans’ reactions to his departure are supportive and emotional. After all, his wealth certainly helped catapult the Club to the top of EPL rankings.