Bidders for Chelsea Football Club must guarantee they will not sell a controlling interest for at least a decade as Roman Abramovich’s tenure as owner nears the end.
Sky News has learned that Raine Group, the merchant bank handling the auction, has been asking the three shortlisted bidders in recent days to make pledges that they will retain control of the Blues until at least 2032.
Raine’s request is believed to be unprecedented at a football club auction and comes as Mr Abramovich’s agent is also seeking a range of other assurances about Chelsea’s future leadership and decision-making.
A source at one of the bidding groups said they had been told the 10-year ownership requirement would only apply to the controlling parties in each consortium, with the new owners also being able to raise money by issuing additional shares to raise new funds for the consortium provide association.
The title guarantee would be included in the purchase agreement, making it legally enforceable, they added.
The motion highlights another unusual aspect of the Chelsea sale process at a time when ownership of English football clubs is facing unprecedented scrutiny and government intervention.
On Monday, ministers released their response to former Sport Secretary Tracey Crouch’s report on the governance of football, paving the way for the establishment of a new independent regulator of sport.
“It has been just over a year since the failed bid for the European Super League, but it is clear that radical changes are needed to secure the future of our national football,” said Sport Secretary Nigel Huddleston.
“We will work expeditiously to build a strong, independent regulator.
“However, football authorities can now take action to address issues football is currently facing such as:
10-year commitment is an attempt to “ensure stability and continuity”
Raine’s 10-year commitment to ownership reflects an attempt to ensure stability and continuity at Stamford Bridge, according to a potential investor.
In addition to the price it can fetch, Raine has told bidders throughout the eight-week process that it is focused on capturing the best future steward of last season’s Champions League winners.
Mr Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and has propelled the club into one of the top sides in Europe, with 19 major trophies won under him.
Of the remaining bidders, the consortium, led by Boston Celtics part owner Steve Pagliuca and Larry Tanenbaum, the NBA chairman and Toronto Maple Leafs owner, has publicly committed to “lifetime ownership” of Chelsea.
Together, the two men would have total control of the club, and Mr Tanenbaum told Sky News last week: “My goal, and Steve’s, would be to own Chelsea for decades to come.”
The offer from Sir Martin Broughton, former chairman of British Airways and Liverpool FC, would include Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment – owner of a stake in Premier League club Crystal Palace and a number of US sports teams – with a majority stake.
A source close to the bid said there were “no exit requirements” for any of its key investors.
The other shortlisted bid would be 66% owned by Clearlake Capital, a California-based investment firm, but would share voting rights equally with a group of investors led by LA Dodgers partner Todd Boehly .
Mr Boehly’s bid will be advised by Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw, where former Chancellor – and Chelsea fan – George Osborne, now works as a partner.
All three bidders are understood to have said they would pay well over £2bn to buy the club, with a further minimum investment of £1bn.
The past eight weeks have witnessed a bidding frenzy unprecedented in English football, with billionaire financiers, media magnates and sports team owners from multiple continents banding together to seize control of the Blues.
Sky News revealed last week that Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams, two of the world’s biggest sports stars, have pledged millions of pounds to the consortium led by Sir Martin.
Chelsea are auctioning what is arguably the most politically charged sporting deal in British history
The Chelsea auction has become arguably the most politically charged sporting deal in British history, dwarfing even last year’s controversial takeover of Newcastle United by a consortium led by a Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
The True Blues Consortium of Chelsea supporters, which includes former Blues captain John Terry among its founders, has backed Pagliuca-Tanenbaum’s bid.
More than 10,000 Chelsea fans have expressed interest in owning shares as part of the deal replacing Mr Abramovich as owner of the club.
A deal does not materialize until the government issues a license authorizing the sale after Mr Abramovich has been sanctioned by the government.
All three bidders are expected to be approved as part of the Premier League’s Owners and Directors test before a recommendation is issued.
The bidding group underlines how much the English Premier League has become a magnet for financiers from across the Atlantic over the past 20 years.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were all taken over by US-based businessmen during this period, and a significant number of other top clubs also have American backing.
Last season’s Champions League winners were reeling from Russia’s war with Ukraine, with Mr Abramovich first proposing to place the club in the care of his foundation and then officially putting it up for sale.
Prior to his sanctioning, Mr. Abramovich had said he intended to take out a $1.5 billion loan.
A forthcoming sale is seen as essential if Chelsea are to avert the uncertainty that the dissolution of one of the top flight’s most valuable squads would trigger.
Chelsea FC bidders filed demand to guarantee ownership until 2032 | business news
Source link Chelsea FC bidders filed demand to guarantee ownership until 2032 | business news