An investor group led by LA Dodgers part owner Todd Boehly is taking over Chelsea FC from Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who served as owner of the Premier League club since 2003. Faced with UK government sanctions in the wake of Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich put the club up for sale on March 2.
According to the numbers shared by the club in a statement published May 6, Boehly’s group is purchasing the club in a deal worth $ 5.25 billion (£ 4.25 billion), making it the most expensive team transaction in sports. A total of $ 3.1 billion will go towards taking over the shares of the club from Abramovich and the rest will be invested in the club.
The UK government has oversight of the transaction given the sanctions leveled against Abramovich, who has already confirmed his intention of donating the proceeds to charity. Based on the sanctions, Abramovich can not see any of the money and Chelsea confirmed that the $ 3.1 billion from Boehly’s group would be “deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention of donating 100 percent to charitable causes as confirmed by Roman Abramovich. “
The deal is expected to be formally approved by the UK government and the Premier League by the end of May. The Boehly group is backed by US investment firm Clearlake Capital and also includes Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter, and British real estate investor Jonathan Goldstein.
The Boehly consortium beat out three other groups in the final bidding: a group led by Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, another by former British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton (with NBA 76ers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer), and a third from the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, which was withdrawn after a controversy around emails with anti-Muslim statements made by patriarch Joe Ricketts.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos, also made a last-ditch bid to purchase the club which was rejected since it came after the deadline established by the Raine Group, which managed the transaction on behalf of Abramovich.
MORE: How much did Abramovich pay for Chelsea?
Who is Todd Boehly? Net worth and ownership stakes
Todd Boehly, a 46-year-old American businessman, is worth around $ 4.5 billion, according to Forbes.
From Bethesda, Maryland, the grandson of German immigrants made his money in investments and was the president of Chicago financial services firm Guggenheim Partners. Today he is the co-founder, CEO and chairman of Eldridge Industries, a private investment firm which makes investments across many different sectors. He has connections to the UK, having attended the London School of Economics in the mid-90’s and worked for Citibank in the English capital.
He’s also the interim CEO for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is a non-profit organization of journalists and photographers reporting on the entertainment industry.
Boehly is heavily involved in US professional sports, most notably as part-owner of Major League Baseball team LA Dodgers as a member of the ownership consortium Guggenheim Baseball Management. His personal stake in that club is reportedly at 20 percent. Boehly notably sealed a major deal in 2013, between Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers to create SportsNet LA, a regional network to broadcast all LA Dodgers content.
He also has a minority stake in the legendary NBA basketball team LA Lakers and the Sparks, with his ownership group alongside Mark Walters buying a 27 percent stake in the club.
In 2015 he co-founded Eldridge Industries with assets including media assets Billboard, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Dick Clark Productions, and Security Benefit, which manages retirement funds. He also went on to invest in real estate, own a technology company, and get involved in the food industry.
Boehly made an attempt to buy Chelsea back in 2019, offering $ 3 billion at the time, but the offer was rejected by Abramovich.
The bid by Boehly and Wyss was thought to be a leading candidate since the beginning of the sale process, and while their first bid was reportedly below the asking price estimated at $ 3.77 billion, negotiations since proved fruitful.
Outside of public posturing by a couple of the group that were destined to miss out, there was little in the way of news or leaked information on the bidding and sale process. However, in late April, reports emerged that Boehly’s bid had been named as the sole preferred bid, entering into exclusive final negotiations to seal the transaction.
According to multiple reports, the Premier League has completed its Owners and Directors test on the consortium members, and the deal could be signed and approved by the Premier League in short order.
MORE: Who is Roman Abramovich?
How has Todd Boehly done as Dodgers owner?
Boehly led the purchase of the Major League Baseball franchise LA Dodgers in 2012, completing a $ 2.1 billion takeover. Boehly is not the main owner of the Dodgers given his 20 percent stake, and that title goes to Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walters.
As a part-owner of the LA Dodgers, Boehly has overseen one of the highest-spending baseball teams of the last decade. The Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball for the 2022 MLB season, calculated at over $ 289 million, which is $ 30 million more than any other payroll.
The Dodgers have four players on payroll all making over $ 20 million per year, led by Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts, who together combine to earn $ 49.5 million in 2022.
That heavy spending has helped push the club to three World Series appearances during Boehly’s ownership, winning the title in 2020.
Why did Roman Abramovich sell Chelsea?
As a Russian oligarch, Abramovich came under increased government scrutiny following Russian invasion of Ukraine and ultimately decided to sell Chelsea with the best interest of the club in mind.
Abramovich bought the Blues for $ 231 million (£ 140 million) in 2003 and several billionaires around the world showed interest in taking over club. The process ultimately netted a list of four final bidders all featuring US owners. Boehly’s group won out in the end.
MORE: Abramovich explains his decision to leave club
“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner,” Abramovich wrote in a statement announcing the sale. “However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.
“It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”