A consortium led by Todd Boehly, the co-owner of the LA Dodgers, has agreed a deal to buy Chelsea soccer club.
The £4.25bn deal ($5.2bn) ends the high profile race to buy the London club whose previous owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, fell under sanctions following Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement, Chelsea said “terms have been agreed” for its takeover by the group led by Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss.”
The consortium’s investment included £2.5bn ($3.1bn) to purchase the shares in the club with the proceeds being put into a frozen UK bank account “with the intention to donate 100 per cent to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich.”
The proposed new owners will commit £1.75bn ($2.15bn) in investment “for the benefit of the club” including in its stadium, Stamford Bridge, its academy to develop young players and its women’s team. The deal will also see the continued funding of Chelsea’s charitable foundation.
The sale will now need to be signed off by the British Treasury, with Chelsea saying they expect it to be finalized by the end of May.
“The sale is expected to be complete in late May subject to all necessary regulatory approvals,” the club added.
A week after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich put the club he had owned since 2003 up for sale on March 2, but the oligarch was soon sanctioned by the British government for his links to the Russian president.
Abramovich said on Thursday he wants to write off Chelsea’s £1.5bn ($1.85bn) debt to him when the club’s sale is complete. Under the terms of his sanctions the debt cannot be written off, but it is expected to be frozen on completion of the sale.
Boehly is a 48-year-old businessman who has a personal net worth of $4.5bn according to Forbes. He is the co-owner of investment company Eldridge Industries, which he set up in 2015, having worked previously at Guggenheim Partners since 2001.
He also has minor shares in the NBA‘s Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and had made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Chelsea in 2019 for $3bn, which Abramovich rejected.
Boehly and his group saw off a fight for the tough club from consortiums led by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.
The final shortlist of bidders also included Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family, who dropped out of the race.