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Roman Abramovich willing to listen to offers for Chelsea amid UK sanctions fear

Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 21, 2017.
Ben Stansall | Afp | Getty Images

Roman Abramovich is willing to listen to offers for Chelsea amid fears of UK sanctions, with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss claiming he has been offered the chance to buy the club.

Earlier this week, Labour MP Chris Bryant used Parliamentary Privilege to also reveal Abramovich is selling his UK home and another flat, telling the House of Commons the Russian billionaire is “terrified of being sanctioned”.

It now appears Chelsea’s owner is looking to sell the football club too.

Abramovich is owed £1.5billion by Chelsea after buying the club in a £140m deal in 2003.

£3bn price tag to buy Chelsea?

Abramovich has slapped a £3bn price tag on Chelsea as he prepares to end his near-two decade ownership of the London club, according to Sky News.

Sky News has learnt Abramovich’s advisers at The Raine Group were expected to issue letters to prospective bidders on Wednesday, with a deadline set for indicative bids in mid-March.

Sources close to the process said as many as eight multi-billionaires were being sounded out about their appetite to buy the club at a time when Abramovich faces the possibility of being sanctioned by the UK Government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian is said to have turned down an offer of £2.5bn for the club from an unidentified third party earlier this week, with bids of £3bn or more expected to be taken seriously.

Among those who have expressed an interest in buying Chelsea in the past are the Ineos tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Todd Boehly, an American businessman, although it was unclear whether either remained interested in a deal.

Several of the parties contacted by Raine are understood to be from the US, with others from Asia.

Who could put together deal to buy Chelsea?

However, Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solekhol does not believe the process to sell Chelsea will be an easy one.

He explained: “For the first time since Abramovich bought Chelsea 19 years ago, he’s willing to listen to offers for the club.

“On Saturday, we saw him try to give up control of the club and hand it over to the Chelsea Foundation trustees. That has proven to be much more difficult that he thought it would be and selling the club in the current climate is going to be much more difficult than maybe he imagines it’s going to be.

“It’s very significant that Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has come out and said that Abramovich is basically desperate to sell the club. We’ve also heard from Chris Bryant MP, who used parliamentary privilege to say Abramovich is terrified that he is going to be sanctioned by the UK government.

“According to Mr Bryant, Abramovich wants to sell his house in London, sell another flat and that was apparently going to happen today. If Abramovich is trying to dispose of all of his UK assets, it’s obvious that he would dispose of Chelsea as well.

“The only issue is – who could buy Chelsea at the moment? Who could put a deal together? Because any prospective buyer is going to be thinking ‘this is a person, Abramovich, who could be sanctioned by the UK Government at any moment. His assets could be frozen. Is this someone I want to do business with at the moment?’

“Abramovich himself has always said that he believes he has not done anything that warrants him being sanctioned by the UK Government, but for the first time in 19 years, it looks like Abramovich is willing to listen to offers for Chelsea.

“But selling Chelsea at the moment is going to be just as complicated as trying to hand over control to the club to the Chelsea Foundation trustees.”

Chelsea have always previously said the club was not for sale but declined to comment on Wednesday.

Wyss ‘offered chance’ to sign Chelsea

Swiss billionaire Wyss claims he has been offered the chance to buy Chelsea, with the 86-year-old has admitting interest in purchasing the Stamford Bridge club from Abramovich, but only as part of a consortium.

Abramovich is understood to want to retain his ownership of Chelsea, but that could effectively prove close to impossible should the UK Government impose sanctions on the 55-year-old, who has owned the west London club since 2003.

“Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,” Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick.

“I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich. I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much.

“You know, Chelsea owe him £2billion. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price.

“I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first.

“But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.”

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