One of Chelsea FC’s main sponsors has apparently confirmed that prospective buyer Todd Boehly’s takeover will go ahead this month.
Travel firm Trivago posted a tweet at 11am today that welcomed Boehly ‘to the Chelsea family’, although that has since been deleted from their account.
The outfit have since blamed a ‘scheduling error’ for the gaffe, which would still insinuate that the takeover is due to be completed soon.
There is a May 31 deadline in place for the deal to be signed off, however government officials – who are overseeing the acquisition process in lieu of the sanctioned Roman Abramovich – are concerned that the Russian oligarch is trying to scupper the takeover.
Ministers want the £2.5 billion from the sale, agreed by Boehly and representatives of Abramovich, to be paid into a holding account before then being donated to a charitable foundation created to aid the victims of the war in Ukraine – as promised by the club’s former owner.
However, reports suggest that the Russian wants a £1.5 billion loan he gave to the club – which he had previously agreed to write off – to be sent to an offshore company of his called Camberley International Investments. Government officials have called into question the logic of that and want to set up a third party escrow instead, while the Charity Commission has confirmed that no foundation has been registered from the Camberley business’s Jersey address.
However, it has been reported that Abramovich has reiterated his desire for the proceeds from the sale to be donated to charity, and that there’s no funny business going on despite the introduction of Camberley International Investments as a trustee of the money.
Chelsea have been operating on a temporary licence since Abramovich was sanctioned by the government in March for his alleged links to Vladimir Putin. He agreed to donate all proceeds from the sale of the club to charity, however officials overseeing the deal have yet to receive a legal commitment that the £1.5 loan will be waived.
And that could mean that the government refuses to issue a new licence that would allow the sale to go through – placing Chelsea in severe jeopardy. If they don’t meet the necessary deadlines, the Blues could be barred from entering the Premier League next season, in which case financial annihilation would be a near certainty.
Who is Todd Boehly?
Those close to the sales process are confident that the takeover will be completed by the May 31 deadline, enabling Boehly and his fellow investors to get to work prior to the opening of the summer transfer window.
He is the figurehead for Clearlake Capital, and investment and equity firm based in California that has provided much of the finance for the buyout.
The American, part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, also has stakes in DraftKings and esports outfit Cloud9, as well as operating an entertainment firm that publishes Rolling Stone and Variety magazines, runs the South by Southwest music festival and owns Dick Clark Productions, who produce many popular reality TV and awards shows in the US.
He was selected as the preferred bidder early on in the process, and is expected to pass the fit and proper person’s test – if Newcastle United chief Mohammad bin Salman can, then anyone can.