© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Premier League – Chelsea v Watford – Stamford Bridge, London, Britain – May 22, 2022 Fans inside the stadium during the match. REUTERS/Tony Obrien
LONDON (Reuters) – The British government has issued a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital, sports minister Nadine Dorries said on Wednesday. Current owner Roman Abramovich is subject to sanctions by the British government. He put the London club up for sale in early March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. “We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals,” Dorries said on Twitter (NYSE:). “Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner.” On Tuesday the consortium, which agreed terms to acquire Chelsea for 4.25 billion pounds ($5.33 billion) earlier this month, passed the Premier League Owners’ and Directors’ Test. Chelsea had been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March and it was set to expire on May 31. The club had earlier confirmed that all proceeds from the sale will be donated to charitable causes by Abramovich. “We are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual,” said a government spokesperson. “We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.” The completion of the sale will allow Chelsea to renew transfer activity as well as permit players to sign new contracts, which was prohibited as part of the sanctions imposed.
Only season ticket holders could earlier attend home matches, while the government also announced a ban on merchandise sales. Groups led by Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and former British Airways chairman Martin Broughton were eliminated from the bidding process, and a consortium led by Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family pulled out of the running.