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Todd Boehly completes £4.25bn takeover as Roman Abramovich era ends

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Boehly’s refusal to accept distractions was key to his successful takeover of Chelsea by the Connecticut billionaire.

Nurphoto – Getty Images| Nurphoto | Getty Images

The Todd Boehly-led consortium have completed a £4.25bn takeover of Chelsea, ending Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of the club.

The deal was approved after months of negotiation. On Wednesday, the government got legal assurances that Roman Abramovich (who had been held in custody in the UK) would not be benefited from the sale.

The UK will keep the funds from this sale in an account frozen until further assurances are received that they will only be used to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Abramovich was a Russian-Israeli billionaire who put Chelsea (which he bought in 2003) up for sale one week after Vladimir Putin’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

His 19-year-old ownership ends and Boehly will become the controlling shareholder of Chelsea. Clearlake Capital, a California-based investment firm, will also take over the majority. It is reported the new owners plan to invest £1.75bn into the club, placing the overall takeover value at £4.25bn.

Chelsea were unable to sign new players and sell any of their existing players after Abramovich was sanctioned. But now that the takeover has taken place, those restrictions are lifted.

Boehly’s rise to the top bidder

Boehly’s refusal to accept distractions was key to his successful takeover of Chelsea by the Connecticut billionaire.

After Abramovich had officially placed the Blues on the market, it took 85 days for the Boehly group to finally beat all other contenders to the Stamford Bridge reins.

Boehly remained focused even in difficult situations where rival bidders found themselves forced to do battle with fires, or were forced to stray from their path.

Laser targeting both Eldridge Industries founder Boehly as well Clearlake Capital cofounder Behdad Eghbali was the foundation of the winning consortium.

Boehly is close to Eghbali and they have a good friendship. The men also share a close working relationship.

People who were responsible for the Chelsea sale found their work easy thanks to this calm approach. However, it was often a difficult and stressful process.

Boehly & Eghbali proved the strength of the consortium to Chelsea Chiefs as well to Raine Group’s top brass, which is the New York merchant bank that oversees the sale.

Clearlake, a California-based investment firm that is renowned for its high quality investments in California, will assume the majority of Chelsea’s shares. Boehly however will be the controlling shareholder.

Sellers have granted the go ahead to the arrangement only due to the strength of their relationship with Boehly, Clearlake and Eghbali.

Boehly was able to do crucial due diligence in 2019 on Chelsea’s bid, which gave him a significant advantage during a highly expedited sale.

Normal time pressure could have caused Chelsea’s sale to take nine months. Raine and the Blues rushed to negotiate a deal within 10 weeks. The entire sale, including government approval, was completed in only three months.

Raine and Chelsea both deserve credit for being able to complete a deal this complex and massive so quickly. It was understood that the executives worked up to 20 hours a day throughout.

What happened to the takeover?

Abramovich officially put Chelsea on sale March 2 amid Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

On March 10, the UK Government sanctioned the 55-year old, with Downing Street asserting that he had proven his connections to Vladimir Putin.

Chelsea’s purchase was unprecedented in public opinion. It attracted profile-hunters such as Muhsin Bayrak, a Turkish businessman, and more credible figures such Nick Candy, a British property tycoon.

However, outside the public court of opinion that was generated by government scrutiny, however, the truthful negotiations took place behind closed doors.

Four bidders made it to the final round: Boehly from the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts families, Sir Martin Broughton, and Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics.

The Ricketts bid faced serious image problems from the beginning. Joe Ricketts, the family patriarch who called Muslims “my enemy,” was leaked to emails that he had previously sent and which raised major concerns.

However, Tom Ricketts and Laura Ricketts, bid leaders, were able demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. With Ken Griffin’s significant investment, the offer began to look compelling.

The consortium pulled out just as the shortlisted bidders started to worry about the Ricketts submission.

The shock news of April 15th generated relief for the bidders and opened the door to Boehly’s eventual success.

The Raine Chiefs then set up Boehly to be confirmed as preferred bidder Friday, April 29th. However, Britain’s wealthiest man added a final twist.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe submitted an offer outside the formal process, in the hopes of gazumping other rival consortiums.

Boehly submitted the submission, which was considered seriously. However, after many days of intense activity Boehly achieved preferred bidder status.

Chelsea’s Abramovich era ended when the purchase agreement was signed in the early morning of Saturday, May 7.

After 19 years of winning 21 trophies for men and changing the landscape of English football, the Russian-Israeli tycoon who owned the Blues is gone.

Boehly to be a Stamford Bridge regular

Boehly was able to go to matches at Stamford Bridge in recent weeks, not only in the director’s box but also among the supporters.

He was casually dressed in a laid back new Blues uniform and seemed to be taken aback at the amount of fan recognition. It contrasts with the lower profile he had received at Dodgers games.

Financial expertise of the new chief at Chelsea has led to his natural interest in data’s impact on sports. Chelsea can count on Boehly seeking every analytical edge possible, particularly when it comes recruitment.

Some top football financial analysts believe leading Premier League clubs could be worth north of £10bn inside 10 years, and such projections have left Boehly and his consortium satisfied with the value in their record sports franchise purchase.

Roman’s final message to Roman: This has been an honor of a life time

Roman Abramovich sent Chelsea fans a message of farewell on Saturday after spending 19 years with the club.

He stated that it had been almost three months since he announced his intention to sell Chelsea FC. The Chelsea FC team worked diligently over the past three months to secure the custodian who would best position the club to succeed in its next chapter.

The ownership of the club is a huge responsibility. The club’s potential has impressed me since my arrival nearly twenty-years ago. It has always been my goal to see that the new owner is able to envision success for both the Men’s & Women’s teams and has the drive and will to keep developing key elements of the club such as the Academy or the important work of Chelsea Foundation.

I am happy that this search is now over. As I transfer Chelsea to its custodians, I want to send my best wishes for their success both on and off pitch.

It has been an honor to play for this Club – I want to thank the staff and fans, past and present, for all these amazing years.

“I’m proud of the fact that thanks to our combined successes, millions will be able to benefit from the newly established charitable foundation. We have shared this legacy together.

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