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UK government authorises sale of Chelsea FC


London (AFP) – The UK government announced Wednesday it had given the green light to Todd Boehly’s proposed takeover of Chelsea football club from the sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries said she had issued a licence permitting the deal late on Tuesday, shortly after it won approval from the Premier League.

“We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals,” Dorries tweeted.

“Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to (Vladimir) Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner,” she said.

A consortium led by Boehly, a co-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, had already agreed a record £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) deal to buy the Premier League club from Abramovich on May 7.

The Premier League said its approval hinged on the government sale licence “and the satisfactory completion of the final stages of the transaction”.

Officials wanted everything completed on Tuesday so Chelsea could meet all registration deadlines for next season’s football competitions.

Abramovich put Chelsea on the market in early March, just before he was sanctioned by the British government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Completing the purchase has been a lengthy process due to government concerns over the potential for Abramovich to profit from the sale.

The total value of the deal smashes the previous record for the sale of a sports team — $2.4 billion for the New York Mets baseball franchise in 2020.

Chelsea have been forced to operate under a special licence from the government since Abramovich, who bought the club in 2003, was sanctioned.

Abramovich, who the European Union also imposed sanctions on, was described by the UK government as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

The sale of the 2021 European champions brings the curtain down on 19 years of nearly unbroken success under the 55-year-old Abramovich, who has overseen five Premier League titles and two Champions League triumphs.

Chelsea finished third in the 2021/22 Premier League season and so gained a place in Europe’s Champions League, the continent’s leading club football competition.

The Blues also reached the finals of English football’s League Cup and FA Cup, only to lose both matches to Liverpool in penalty shoot-outs.

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