July 26, 2021

Chelsea FC, a club for sale?

Owner of Chelsea FC since 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich could soon end his adventure at the head of the London club. Even if, in his entourage, we never stop denying any disengagement. Explanations.

The cluster of clues begins to be disturbing. After announcing at the beginning of the summer to put in brackets the modernization project of Stamford Bridge – a renovation of the Blues enclosure which was to allow the club to double its turnover in the long term – a new element could validate the hypothesis marketed by the Chelsea FC club by Roman Abramovich.

According to information revealed at the end of last week by The Times, the Russian billionaire would have recently asked the New York investment bank Raine Group to carry out a complete valuation of the assets of Chelsea FC.

An assessment that could be a preliminary step in the sales process. Especially since the shooting window looks good for the Russian billionaire. While the latter invested around £ 1.2bn in the London club since its acquisition in 2003, Raine Group reportedly valued Chelsea FC at £ 2bn. What to consider a nice added value for Roman Abramovich.

Geopolitical tensions and certain economic decisions could push Abramovich to leave

The idea of ​​selling Chelsea FC would not have germinated overnight in the mind of the Russian owner. While several diplomatic incidents have recently raised tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia – including in particular the Skripal affair – the deterioration of relations between the government of Theresa May and that of Vladimir Putin has not been without consequences for Roman Abramovich.

The Russian oligarch has thus recently been deprived of a visa due to additional papers requested by the British authorities. A snub that forced Roman Abramovich to urgently apply for Israeli citizenship in order to continue to stay in the United Kingdom. A cavalier attitude on the part of the British administration to which the owner of Chelsea FC would have little taste.

Still, diplomatic issues between Russia and the UK might not be the only grounds for Roman Abramovich to question the rest of his Stamford Bridge affair. The economic uncertainty linked to Brexit could also weigh on his efforts. Other club owners have recently sold their shares. This is the case of the Russian … magnate, Alisher Usmanov, who sold Stan Kroenke his shares which he held in the share capital of Arsenal FC.

Roman Abramovich denies any desire to withdraw from Chelsea FC

If certain actions carried out behind the scenes may suggest a medium-term withdrawal from Chelsea FC on the part of Roman Abramovich; the latter endeavored to twist the rumors by denying such information. A hypothesis which is also rejected by the Board of Chelsea FC.

And for the moment, Roman Abramovich is walking the talk. According to the English press, the Russian owner of Chelsea FC has recently refused an offer of up to £ 2 billion formulated by Jim Ratcliffe, boss of the British chemical group Ineos. A group that already owns the Swiss club Lausanne-Sport. The American fund Silver Lake has also reportedly expressed an interest in the club.

Especially since rumors of a sale of Chelsea FC by Roman Abramovich are not new. In 2009, following the subprime crisis, the English press also mentioned a potential disengagement of the owner of the Blues. Discussions with a Saudi fund had even been mentioned.

Mandating an investment bank to develop the assets of a company does not necessarily mean putting the latter up for sale. However, the mission entrusted to Raine Group associated with certain decisions taken recently – postponement of the stadium modernization project, a certain inertia in the sporting choices made this summer… – leave some doubt as to the intentions of Roman Abramovich. Doubts that he will have to dispel again.