Q&A: Todd Boehly’s Chelsea takeover is almost complete, so what happens next?
Todd Boehly’s consortium has finally received approval from both the UK Government and the Premier League to purchase Chelsea, in the latest development of the ongoing saga surrounding the sale of the west London team.
On Tuesday night the Premier League confirmed they had given the green light for the LA Dodgers stakeholder to ratify his takeover from the sanctioned Roman Abramovich, who has owned the club for 19 years.
Then, on Wednesday morning, Government officials confirmed that they are satisfied ‘that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual.’
A statement from Whitehall read: ‘Late last night the UK Government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea Football Club.
‘Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the Government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea Football Club has been able to continue to play football. But we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.
‘Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.
‘The steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for necessary licences required and we thank them for all their co-operation.’
Todd Boehly’s £4.25billion takeover is almost complete after the signing of the agreement
Boehly has been in attendance in a number of Chelsea matches towards the end of the season
Boehly saw off competition from consortiums fronted by Stephen Pagliuca and Sir Martin Broughton and even a late £4.25bn bid from Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
A total of £2.5billion will ‘be applied to purchase the shares in the Club and such proceeds will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention to donate 100 per cent to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich’.
‘The other £1.75billion will be spent on ‘further investment for the benefit of the Club’, such as on Stamford Bridge, the academy, the Chelsea women’s team and the continued funding of the Chelsea foundation.’
So, with the league and Whitehall officials giving the green light, what happens now?
Here, Sportsmail details the remaining hurdles that still need to be cleared and the impact on Chelsea’s future.
What still needs to be done to end the Abramovich era?
Crucially for Chelsea fans, it’s almost there.
Getting the green light from the Premier League and the Government was a big step forward and now the process will be to draw up the sale licence for Abramovich to deal to Boehly and his consortium.
From there, the takeover will need to received approval from European Union officials, the owners-in-waiting will need to cross the t’s and dot the i’s when signing the final documents and then they will have the keys.
It’s been a long and arduous process, a takeover like no other in the Premier League, but the end is in sight now.
The Chelsea takeover saga has nearly ended with Abramovich completing the sale to Boehly
How long will that take?
How long is a piece of string?
Naturally, with this level of bureaucracy it’s always difficult to say exactly but this takeover is not into the final stages and confirmation once and for all is expected imminently.
It is difficult to imagine this dragging on beyond the end of the week.
What does today’s announcement allow them to do?
It allows Chelsea to start looking to an future without the red tape of sanctions.
During this process everything has been shut down. No club shop, no ability to sell tickets, it’s just been a roadblock to the end of the season.
Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea were put under a strict Government operating licence, with all of Abramovich’s other UK assets frozen.
Now, with the season drawing to a close and rivals beginning to flex their financial muscles in the transfer market – look at Manchester City snaring Erling Haaland for £51m from Borussia Dortmund – Chelsea know that shortly all that red tape will be ripped away.
Once Boehly’s takeover is complete the Blues will be able to return to business as usual – and there will be no time to lose on reconfiguring the playing squad.
Normality is on the horizon, providing any late hiccups.
The Government and PM Boris Johnson have given the Boehly-led takeover the green light
Could Portugal still offer a hiccup?
The key to this deal now is getting EU and Portuguese approval – Abramovich holds citizenship there and so sanctions stand against him there also.
Minister for Foreign Affairs João Gomes Cravinho confirmed, via Portugal Resident, that ‘obviously we are in dialogue with the British government; we are in dialogue with the European Commission… we will be intransigent in the application of our legal obligations.’
Cravinho, Portugal’s head of diplomacy, added that ‘in relation to Chelsea, naturally there is an absolutely fundamental point: Portugal applies sanctions that were decreed by the European Union.’
Discussions between Whitehall officials and their counterparts in Brussels and in Portugal have been fraught and have frustrated this process to this point.
But approval is now believed to be a formality for Boehly to seal the deal this week.
What’s the final price?
It will be £2.5bn initially with various guarantees involved in the deal, as there often is in large scale transactions such as this one.
Thomas Tuchel’s side’s performances on the pitch have been impacted by off-the-pitch issues
What’s next (on the pitch)?
Couple of things – a big splash in the transfer market and contract renewals.
Let’s start with manager Thomas Tuchel reportedly standing in line to receive £200million to spend on new players this summer, once the deal is signed, sealed and delivered.
The new American ownership are no doubt keen to make a clear statement of their bold plan to challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for titles in the years ahead by making a splash in the summer transfer market.
The Telegraph have detailed that £200m – some of which will be funded from player sales – will be the war chest afforded to Tuchel, who delivered a Champions League to the Blues last season.
Defence is the top priority, with both Antonio Rudiger, off to Real Madrid, and Andreas Christensen, off to Barcelona, leaving the club on free transfers and the future of captain Cesar Azpilicueta still uncertain.
Sevilla’s Jules Kounde is believed to be the first to walk through the Stamford Bridge door, having been a long-term target for Chelsea.
The Telegraph also reported that a shock move for Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling could be on the cards with the England international entering the final year of his contract.
Jules Kounde, the Sevilla defender, is likely to make the move to Stamford Bridge this summer
Talking of contracts winding down, expect the futures of Mason Mount and Reece James, both players to emerge from the club’s academy in recent years to be top of the agenda.
Mount picked up 11 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season and was the only Chelsea player to reach double figures for either.
The homegrown talent won a second Player of the Year award (in as many seasons) and yet he remains one of the lowest paid players at the club with a weekly wage of £80,000 – something the I newspaper say will double once Boehly’s takeover goes through.
However, that is set to change if Chelsea’s planned takeover goes through with The I reporting that Mount’s wages will more than double if the club is bought successfully.
As for James, he has flourished since breaking into the first team and interest in him comes as no surprise, hence the need to get him on fresh terms.
He is already under contract through to 2025 but many reports have detailed plans for a contract extension of one or two years, on a bumper new deal.
Chelsea finished third in the Premier League this season but Boehly’s bold plan to freshen up the squad and retain the biggest stars should be music to the ears of supporters.
Mason Mount topped both goal and assist charts for Chelsea in the 2021/22 Premier League
Will Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck stick around?
Both have played such key roles during the Abramovich era and Boehly has shown an apparent willingness to keep them involved, even if it is just in the interim.
Buck and Granovskaia are reportedly set for major windfalls following the conclusion of this protracted takeover deal.
Chelsea chairman Buck reportedly stands to make £30m from the club’s £4.25bn sale to Boehly, while director Granovskaia is said to be collecting £20m, according to the Times.
The Government have been desperate to ensure that Abramovich would not personally benefit from the takeover in any way, and Whitehall chiefs are said to be satisfied the proceeds will not go to the Russian.
But two of Chelsea’s key board members, who have been helping to push through the sale, will reportedly profit hugely from it now it has gone through.
Their remuneration from this sale doesn’t necessarily mean their time at the club is up, though. A watch this space situation surrounding Buck and Granovskaia.
Bruce Buck (left) and Marina Granovskaia (right) will both reportedly get windfalls from sale
Buck (left) and Granovskaia may yet remain on at the club if Boehly (right) wants them to stay
Where’s the money from the sale going?
As we say, definitely not to Abramovich, given the sanctions levelled against him.
It has been the Government’s insistence that no money reaches Abramovich that has made this such a drawn out process.
Earlier this month a former Unicef chief executive begged the government to approve Boehly’s takeover of Chelsea during a moment where concerns were mounting that the deal could collapse.
With the final sale deadline set at May 31, concerns have since eased and former Unicef UK executive director Mike Penrose, who is the man tasked with forming the new independent foundation to which owner Abramovich wants to donate all proceeds from the Blues’ sale to, is pushing for this takeover to be ratified quickly.
As war rumbles on in Ukraine, Penrose outlined the importance of the money going to the foundation given ‘lives are at stake’ in war-torn Ukraine.
Ex-Unicef chief executive Mike Penrose (left) has promised Roman Abramovich won’t benefit
Penrose previously submitted a ‘scoping document’ to the Government, outlining plans for ‘the world’s biggest humanitarian or conflict-affected charity’ and how it will run. Abramovich is said to not be receiving any money from the Boehly sale.
‘I’m prepared to stand up in front of any government committee, panel, anything, and attest to the neutrality of how this is being created,’ Penrose said earlier this month.
‘I hope they see fit to allow it to go ahead, and I hope they allow us to get the money to the front line in Ukraine very quickly.’
The confirmation he is seeking is now believed to be less than a week away.
What have Chelsea lost so far?
Thankfully not a spot in next season’s Champions League, but many fans have missed games, Rudiger’s decided to take his talents elsewhere, uncertainty has seen them miss out on Haaland, who will wear a Man City shirt next season, and a defensive crisis is swirling with so many in the backline out of contract.
Sealing this takeover is vital in just getting Chelsea back to normal where selling a shirt in a club shop isn’t breaching a Government sanction.
Take the Haaland chase. ESPN reported that the Blues have been left unhappy that sanctions prevented them from even attempting a move for the Norwegian.
Tuchel’s side had identified Haaland as a potential addition to replace Romelu Lukaku, who has had a disappointing second spell at Stamford Bridge.
There will be an element of making up for lost time once the takeover goes through, hence the talk of a £200m outlay.
Playing catch-up isn’t ideal but there is still plenty of time for Chelsea to make their moves this summer.
Chelsea’s sanctions reportedly curtailed any pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland
What are Todd Boehly and Clearlake like?
Boehly will be the face of this new ownership group but it will be private equity firm Clearlake that will be the majority shareholder.
They are said to be providing two thirds of the funding – not a huge surprise given they manage global assets to the tune of about £57bn – but Boehly will be the face that many come to recognise.
Chelsea fans can take optimism from his ownership of the LA Dodgers, who back in 2011 under Frank McCourt were one of the most badly managed teams in North American sport.
In 2012, Guggenheim Baseball Management – a consortium of investors that included Boehly – bought the Dodgers for $2.15bn.
A transformation of their fortunes has followed with Boehly credited for winning a $8.35bn deal between Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers to establish SportsNet LA, a regional network that showed all Dodgers games.
Post-season appearances have become the norm – they haven’t missed it in nine seasons – and they even won the World Series in 2020.
Boehly’s bid has plenty of high ranking figures involved and if his turnaround of the Dodgers is anything to go by, Chelsea are in good hands.
What are people saying about it?
Chelsea fans have got a spring in their step this morning after the Government gave Boehly’s bid the go-ahead.
One fan wrote on Twitter: ‘What a fantastic news to wake up too. Let the Boehly era begin. He has a very big shoes to fill in #CFC.’
Another added: ‘The Abramovich era is over. Today is a good day,’ while one other supporter said: ‘We are back baby.’
Some Chelsea fans were relieved to hear the positive news, which came after the Premier League approved the takeover on Tuesday night, with one writing: ‘Finally the drama is over. Sad to see Roman leave under circumstances beyond his control.’
While another expressed the importance of maintaining success under the new ownership, saying: ‘And it’s finally all done. Good luck to Boehly.
‘The last 19 years have set a high bar for any owner. We’ve won it all and done it in our own mad way and need to maintain those standards.’
After weeks and weeks of uncertainty, the grey clouds appear to be dissipating.
Is there ANY chance of Arsenal taking Chelsea’s Champions League place?
Very, very unlikely.
This deal would need to collapse pretty rapidly and Chelsea would need to lose their licence allowing them to play to see them booted out of competitions such as the Champions League.
But until it’s all done, no doubt Arsenal fans will look to keep the faith.
Todd Boehly profile: His business interests include the LA Dodgers, LA Lakers, a TV company and song catalogue of Bruce Springsteen… the US financier favours diplomacy and has won hearts and minds in his bid to buy Chelsea
When Todd Boehly was asked to identify the key to his success in the boardroom, the American’s answer revealed a businessman who valued diplomacy above ruthlessness. ‘When I’m negotiating, the objective is not to get the best deal for myself but to make a deal that’s fair to all parties involved,’ Boehly told a school reunion in Maryland.
‘Most people try to wring every penny for themselves. That strategy earns them more money on one specific deal but it doesn’t build trust or long-lasting relationships.’
Boehly has certainly worked hard to satisfy the interested parties in the Chelsea takeover, beating a set of formidable opponents to become the preferred bidder, involving in his consortium two prominent season-ticket holders and promising fans he would rebuild Stamford Bridge rather than seek an alternative home.
Todd Boehly at the MLB game between the LA Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds in April
He also engaged the consultancy services of a former Chancellor’s firm shortly before the process sought Government approval. There might be some doubt over whether he will trump Jim Ratcliffe’s late bid to earn Abramovich’s blessing instead, but there is no doubt Boehly has won hearts and minds over the past two months, much as he appears to have done elsewhere in life to date.
A sign of the respect that he can inspire in others can be drawn from the detail of that Landon School reunion in 2014. Five former class-mates turned up to the unveiling of a wrestling room named in his honour at the private education establishment. Boehly had served on the wrestling team that won an interstate championship in 1990 and 1991.
Two of Boehly’s teachers also attended, including Steve Sorkin, who taught maths and served as a mentor for the teenage Boehly even beyond his graduation. Boehly recalled seeking advice from ‘Sork’ when struggling at The College of William & Mary in Virginia, the second-oldest university in the United States after Harvard.
American tycoon Boehly on course to become new Chelsea owner after Government approval
‘College overwhelmed me, my grades started to suffer and I started to languish. So I came back to Landon and I talked to Mr Sorkin,’ said Boehly. ‘It was Sork’s idea to go study at the London School of Economics. He said, ‘You need a redo, so go find it’. And for that I’ll forever be grateful.’
The sojourn reinvigorated Boehly and is said to have inspired in him an enduring love of the city. On graduating with a degree in finance, his career then began in earnest in 1996 at CS First Boston in New York, the investment banking division of Credit Suisse.
From there he went to the venture capitalists JH Whitney & Co and on to Guggenheim Partners in 2001, launching a credit-management business for the financial services giant. His notable contributions to it included advising clients to avoid investing in several companies where major fraud was subsequently exposed, among them the energy company Enron.
Working alongside chief executive Mark Walter, also part of the Chelsea consortium, Boehly’s commitment helped him rise to the position of president and was illustrated in an anecdoted reported by Forbes.
According to its website, while assessing the insurance firm Security Benefit, Boehly abandoned a Kansas hotel because it smelled of cigarettes and slept on a park bench. Guggenheim bought the company for £318million.
Boehly’s business interests include NBA basketball side Los Angeles Lakers
‘I just kind of lived with a simple mantra, if I said I was going to do it I’d get it done,’ he told Yahoo last year. ‘And when you have a reputation for being able to get stuff done it’s amazing what stuff ends up piling up in your inbox.’
In 2015, Boehly, 46, realised a long-held ambition to set up his own business. He began by taking with him several of the assets acquired at Guggenheim, including film-industry bible The Hollywood Reporter, the TV company Dick Clark Productions, three years on from its £278m purchase, and Security Benefit.
Seven years later, Eldridge Industries holds assets worth £32billion, with stakes in dozens of businesses.
Its diverse portfolio includes Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, NBA side Los Angeles Lakers, the song catalogues of Bruce Springsteen and The Killers, as well as myriad technology and property interests. The latter includes Cain International, headquartered in London with Jonathan Goldstein, another member in the Chelsea bid, as its chief executive. Other key figures on Boehly’s team include Chelsea fans Daniel Finkelstein, a journalist, PR executive Barbara Charone, as well as ex-Chancellor George Osborne.
Boehly is known in the US for his philanthropy, having invested in his alma mater William & Mary as well as several medical charities. Among countrymen, however, he is perhaps most celebrated for his work with the Dodgers. Under Guggenheim’s management and with Boehly serving as a partner, the franchise’s World Series victory in 2020 was its first in 22 years. The TV deal he struck had been crucial to investing in the roster.
Boehly’s ambition had been realised. For, when asked what would constitute a successful ownership of the team, he said: ‘You’re not really asking me that, are you? The more World Series we win, the more valuable a franchise it is, right?’
Chelsea fans will hope he blends his diplomacy with similar bullishness.