Roman Abramovich's 19 year ownership of Chelsea has ended after the British government approved the sale by the sanctioned Russian Oligarch to a consortium led by Todd Boehly, part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The government needed to ensure that Abramovich was not profiting from the forced sale of the club he invested in, which was sanctioned for his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
With Premier League approval granted on Tuesday, the current FIFA Club World Cup winners will be sold for 2.5 Billion Pounds ($3.1 billion).
Since March, when Abramovich's assets had been frozen, Chelsea has been operating with a government license. It expires May 31.
"Given the sanctions that we placed on those connected to Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the club's long-term survival cannot be guaranteed under a new owner," British Culture Secretary Nadine Dories stated. "We are confident that the proceeds from the sale will not be used to benefit Roman Abramovich and other sanctioned persons."
Officials from Chelsea and the government had been in discussions for weeks about securing Abramovich's financial guarantee. Before going to charity, the proceeds from the sale will be frozen in an account.
The British government released a statement saying that they will now start the process to ensure that the proceeds from the sale go towards humanitarian causes in Ukraine and support victims of war. "The steps taken today will ensure the future of this cultural asset, as well as protect football fans and the wider community.
The delay in approving the sale was primarily due to the fate of 1.6 million pounds ($2 billion), which Abramovich had loaned to Chelsea since 2003. This money provided funding for the construction of a men's team that won 21 trophies under his ownership. Abramovich needed to give government assurances about the ability to write off debts linked with companies he controlled, even though he has not condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Since the club approved the sale of the Dodgers to the consortium, Boehly has been attending Chelsea games since then. The consortium also includes Mark Walter, the principal Dodgers owner, Hansjorg Wyss the Swiss billionaire, and funding from Clearlake Capital.
The sale was hotly contested with four groups competing for the final spot. Boehly's group won the May 7th vote after ensuring 1.75 billion pounds ($2.2 million) of investment.
Chelsea fans are used to the extravagant spending of Abramovich's Chelsea team, which has spent more than $1 billion on its players.
The sanctions have hampered Chelsea's ability sell match tickets and make new player purchases. However, the new owners are now ready to invest in manager Thomas Tuchel to strengthen his squad.
After finishing third in last Sunday's Premier League, it is certain that Chelsea will play in the Champions League next year. Abramovich's investment in the women's squad enabled them to win a double league and cup.
When Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003, the club had only won the men's title once. That was in 1955. The club won the Premier League in two years thanks to expensive signings. It has added four since then, including the 2017 edition.
Stamford Bridge needs investment. Chelsea's stadium is the most outdated and small of all the Premier League's top clubs. Plans for a rebuilding the venue of 41,000 capacity were put on hold in 2018 by Abramovich as British-Russian diplomatic tensions grew.
Chelsea's $3.1 billion price tag is more than the $2.3 billion spent in 2018 on the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
Boehly is part owner of the MLB's Dodgers. He also holds minority stakes in both the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA).