Roman Abramovich rejects Chelsea sale proposal, deal may fall apart

There is growing concern Roman Abramovich won’t play by the rules as his sale of EPL giant Chelsea threatens to implode.

Chelsea’s $7.5 billion takeover could “fall apart” if oligarch Roman Abramovich continues to block the final sale.

The Russian owner has been accused by senior UK government sources of deliberately refusing to play ball over the terms of the sale of the Premier League giant to the consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly.

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And it has led to suggestions the club’s entire future is in doubt — and risks seeing the Blues “booted out” of the league, The Sun reports.

Boehly and his consortium were hopeful of completing a $4.4 billion initial deal with a promise to spend a further $3.1 billion on the stadium, academy and team-building by the end of this week.

But the ongoing spat between Chelsea and the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) over the final structure of the agreement has now broken out into a serious issue.

A government insider expressed “considerable alarm” at the flare-up, suggesting the very viability of the Blues could be at threat.

The source said: “There’s quite serious concern in government that the deal may fall apart and that Roman Abramovich is ultimately willing to let Chelsea go under.

“There are deadlines at the end of this month and the start of June, which would either see the club booted out of European competition or the Premier League entirely.

“A good chunk of the sale needs to be done this week or next.”

Chelsea remain confident the deal will be approved before the club’s current operating licence runs out on May 31, although there could be leeway on that from the government side.

But the sticking point remains government demands that the entire $4.4 billion from Boehly be placed in a holding account until officials are satisfied all the money will then go to a foundation to help victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea and Abramovich maintain their wish for the $2.8 billion debt owed by the club’s parent company Fordstam — effectively money owed to the Russian owner over his 19-year reign — be sent to a Jersey-registered investment company before being sent on to the foundation.

Chelsea’s demand is that the money would be frozen after being transferred to Camberley International Investments ahead of being moved to the foundation.

The government, though, believes that would break the sanctions imposed on Abramovich and other oligarchs for their alleged support of Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Officials have told Chelsea such a move would leave them with no legal guarantees that cash would not end up in the hands of Abramovich or his associates and family.

This is an issue because Abramovich is barred from profiting at all from the sale, as a result of sanctions.

The UK government source added: “There’s alarm about the gap between what Abramovich has said he will do publicly and what he’s willing to commit to legally as part of the sale process.

“There are pressing deadlines this week, and if there isn’t a breakthrough, we’re quite concerned that the sale of Chelsea could be timed out by certain sporting deadlines.

“Chelsea are saying to us they don’t know who owns Camberley International and can’t talk to them. We cannot contact Camberley International to talk about this.”

This article first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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