The Premier League are set to approve the Todd Boehly-led consortium’s takeover of Chelsea — but a key stumbling block remains as talks between Roman Abramovich and the U.K. government continue, sources have told ESPN.
Although the league has described the process as “ongoing,” sources suggest the bid spearheaded by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Boehly is expected to pass the league’s Owners and Directors’ Test (OADT) in the coming days.
Significantly, however, a key stumbling block remains as the OADT does not consider where the sale money goes, focusing solely instead on the buyer’s robustness to manage the club they are buying.
That means a separate agreement must be found between Abramovich and the government over what happens to the £2.5 billion asking price. Sources have told ESPN that as of Wednesday morning, nothing has been finalised.
After being sanctioned by the U.K. government for alleged ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin, Abramovich is not allowed to personally benefit from the proceeds of any sale.
The European Union has adopted the same position with Portugal last week blocking the sale of a €10 million house amid concerns Abramovich was the owner.
Sources close to Abramovich suggest a compromise has been reached in Chelsea’s case but the government is yet to be satisfied that a legal resolution has been found.
The Boehly consortium has committed a total of £4.25bn to buy Chelsea, with that figure including guarantees of future investment. But the issue of what happens to the £2.5bn being paid to acquire the club still remains.
Abramovich has stated that he is not seeking repayment of a £1.6bn loan and is happy for the £2.5bn to go to the victims of the war in Ukraine.
However, as talks have continued, it has been suggested that Abramovich is in fact asking for the £2.5bn to be paid to charity via Camberley International, a company the government believes is an affiliate of a trust fund managed in Cyprus and owned by Abramovich’s children.
Therefore, the government is demanding the money is held in an escrow account — effectively held independently until the destination for the funds is determined — which would allow Boehly to complete the purchase of Chelsea, freeing the club of the ongoing dispute.
Conversations could then continue between Abramovich and the government, with Chelsea removed from all sanctions and beginning a new era under the Boehly consortium.
However, the government licence granted to keep Chelsea operating expires on May 31, and a compromise has to be found before then.