Los Angeles (AFP) – For Todd Boehly, the billionaire US businessman heading the consortium buying Chelsea in a 4.25 million-pound ($5.2 million) deal, ownership of a Premier League club is a long-sought move.
The 46-year-old from Virginia, who grew up a fan of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, was a key member of the ownership group that bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt in 2012 for $2 billion — then a record for a North American sports team acquisition
In the decade since Guggenheim Baseball Management — the investment group that also includes Mark Walter and Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson — took over a Dodgers team in disarray, the club have become perennial contenders, making the playoffs the past nine seasons.
They reached the World Series three times in four years, coming away empty in 2017 and 2018 before winning the title in 2020.
The turnaround, along with the revitalization of Dodger Stadium, was fueled by a multi-million-dollar media deal and, under Boehly and his co-investors, the Dodgers have eclipsed the New York Yankees as the biggest-spending club in MLB.
Boehly and Walter each put up $100 million to buy the Dodgers while more than $1 billion came from Guggenhiem Partners insurance companies.
“There is only one Dodgers,” Boehly said at the time. “It’s not, ‘Oh well, if you don’t get this one, you can go get that one.'”
Steering the Dodgers out of their post-McCourt malaise hasn’t been Boehly’s only dive into turbulent waters.
In October, he became interim chief executive of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that awards the Golden Globes, as it dealt with the fallout from a Los Angeles Times investigation that revealed ethical lapses and a lack of diversity.
– Opportunity for global return –
Boehly departed Guggenheim Partners in 2015 and co-founded the holding company Eldridge Industries, of which he is the chairman and chief executive.
He is also chairman of Security Benefit, which has a commercial partnership with the Dodgers, and MRC Entertainment, a Beverly Hills-based media company that owns Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety, the Hollywood Reporter and Dick Clark Productions.
Boehly has also expanded his sports interests. He is a part owner of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and last year joined with Walter to purchase a stake in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers.
The opportunity to buy Chelsea, the reigning European champions, came after Russian owner Roman Abramovich put the club on the market in early March, just days before he was sanctioned by the British government in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Discussing an earlier attempt to purchase Chelsea that was rebuffed, Boehly told Bloomberg in 2019 that “what you are trying to build with these teams, you are really trying to a – win and b – be part of the community.”
There is no doubt that the Premier League’s status and opportunity for global return on investment is a key driver of Boehly’s interest.
“It’s the highest quality play, it’s the best players,” he told Bloomberg back in 2019. “You also have a media market that’s just developing.”
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