After a period of uncertainty and multiple bidders dueling to purchase the club from sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Chelsea FC has released a press statement announcing they've come to terms with a buyer. The winning buyer is a consortium led by private equity honcho Todd Boehly, who is probably best-known for being a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The total purchase price was equal to $5.2 billion USD.
For a total investment of £4.25 billion, the group will get their ownership stake in the club's shares, valued at £2.5 billion, plus an additional sum of £1.75 billion towards investments in the team itself, including "investments in Stamford Bridge, the academy, the women's team and Kingsmeadow and continued funding for the Chelsea Foundation."
The buyers also agreed not to make any major majority stake sale of the shares until at least 2032, as well as assurances regarding the team's current dividends and debts.
In case you haven't been following the saga, Chelsea was put up for sale a few weeks ago, technically before its then-owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK for alleged ties to the Russian regime. In the wake of Russia's horrific invasion, Roman was subsequently sanctioned in the United Kingdom. One of the major terms in his sanctioning was that he could not personally profit from the club's sale.
In the club's press statement, it's made clear that Abramovich will not be seeing any of the proceeds from this historic sale:
"Of the total investment being made, £2.5bn 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% to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich. UK Government approval will be required for the proceeds to be transferred from the frozen UK bank account."
Todd Boehly heads up the buying consortium, which also includes a financial firm called Clearlake Capital, Boehly's fellow Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter, and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss.
The statement also says that the sale will be formally closed by the end of May – a good thing, since the team was operating on a special license from the UK government that expires on May 31st, due to the sanctions against Abramovich.
The $5.2 billion price is significantly higher than the football club was thought to be worth when it was first put up for sale, and once Abramovich was sanctioned many expected him to agree to an even lower price. But a bidding war that included other consortiums as well as British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe drove the price up to its final position.
At $5.2 billion, this is officially the most money that has ever been paid for a professional sports team. And it's not particularly close, since the second place spot is held by the $2.4 billion Steve Cohen paid for the New York Mets in 2020.