UK government makes bombshell decision on Chelsea FC sale

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·Sports Reporter
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Roman Abramovich's sale of Chelsea FC has been approved by the Premier League and UK government, which has sanctioned wealthy Russian's in the wake of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Pictures: Getty Images
Roman Abramovich's sale of Chelsea FC has been approved by the Premier League and UK government, which has sanctioned wealthy Russian's in the wake of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Pictures: Getty Images

The UK government has approved the sale of Chelsea FC from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to a US-based investment consortium, lead by the owner of the MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers.

The deal was approved earlier in the day by the Premier League itself, but final approval from the government did not come until late on Wednesday.

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Abramovich was moved to sell the Premier League club he acquired in 2003 in the wake of his native Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has been opposed by governments around the world.

The UK was one of a number of nations to impose financial sanctions on wealthy Russian nationals living and operating overseas, with the sale held up due to concerns from the government that Abramovich's complex business structures would see him benefit from the proceeds of the sale.

Abramovich has maintained throughout that the proceeds of the sale would not be directed towards himself - and on Wednesday the UK government announced it was satisfied this would be the case.

"Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea," the government said via a statement.

"Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea 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 cooperation."

UK government approves Chelsea FC sale despite fear of collapse

The consortium led by American businessman Todd Boehly, which agreed terms to acquire Chelsea for 4.25 billion pounds sterling earlier this month, has passed the Premier League Owners' and Directors' Test, paving the way for the club's takeover.

The Premier League said in a statement earlier this month: "The Board has applied the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' Test (OADT) to all prospective Directors, and undertaken the necessary due diligence".

"The members of the consortium purchasing the club are affiliates of the Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., Todd Boehly, Hansjorg Wyss and Mark Walter."

Chelsea's Premier League future is secure after the sale of the club to a consortium of American investors was approved by the league and UK government. (Photo by Ivan Yordanov/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Chelsea's Premier League future is secure after the sale of the club to a consortium of American investors was approved by the league and UK government. (Photo by Ivan Yordanov/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesperson earlier confirmed the Government had launched talks with "international partners" to help push the Chelsea sale across the line.

Abramovich had sought to sell the club before he was sanctioned, but that process was taken out of his hands by the British government after his finances were blacklisted.

The 55-year-old has since denied any ties to Putin and has been helping in peace talks with Ukraine.

"We are tightening the ratchet on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war machine and targeting the circle of people closest to the Kremlin," British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

"We will keep going with sanctions until Putin fails in Ukraine. Nothing and no one is off the table."

With Reuters

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