Roman Abramovich has completed the sale of Chelsea Football Club and related companies to an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
This sale process commenced on 2 March, when Mr. Abramovich announced his intention to sell the Club after 19 successful years of ownership. In selling the Club, Mr. Abramovich stipulated that the new owner must be a good steward of the Club, the net proceeds of the sale must be donated to charity, and that he would not seek the repayment of loans made to affiliates of the Club.
Following this announcement, the Board of Directors and senior staff at the Club immediately commenced work on the sale transaction. Raine, a global merchant bank chosen by the owner to run the sale process, has significant expertise and experience advising premium sports clubs on mergers and acquisitions and advised the owner and the Club in the process.
On 10 March, Mr. Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government. Under sanctions, the Club operated within the confines and constraints of the restrictive General Licence granted by the UK Government, while doing its best to maintain the ordinary course of business. At all times throughout the process the Club’s objective was to support our men’s, women’s and academy teams and allow them to operate with the absolute minimum level of inconvenience and distraction.
These sanctions also presented unique and unforeseen challenges to the sale process, but the Board and Raine continued to work on the transaction in accordance with the owner’s objectives.
The process was extremely thorough and completed on an accelerated timeline. Many described the proposed transaction as “unprecedented”, and it was. A transaction such as this would normally take nine months to a year to complete; we did it in less than three months.
The Club received more than 250 enquiries from proposed purchasers, held detailed discussions with more than 100 individuals and entities, and entered into 32 confidentiality agreements, which allowed for due diligence with respect to confidential Club information. Ultimately, the Club received 12 credible bids, resulting in 4 and then 3 final bidders. The Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital consortium was chosen as the preferred bidder.
The group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital rose above the other groups through the strength of the partnership between the group’s component parts, which includes Mark Walter, co-founder and CEO of Guggenheim Capital; and Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the Wyss Foundation; Todd and Mark’s participation in the ownership of several sports franchises with sustained winning traditions, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Los Angeles Sparks; a belief by the Board that this group could help the Club resolve certain current challenges and could assist in creating new opportunities, and help the Club reach its long-term strategic objectives. We believe the Board and the Boehly/Clearlake group have a shared vision for the future of Chelsea Football Club.
STRUCTURE OF TRANSACTION
In choosing the right stewards for the Club through this transaction, we agreed with the new owners that their group would make certain binding financial commitments, including investments in the Academy and women’s team, the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge and the Chelsea Foundation.
We also agreed several further conditions to ensure that the new owners continue to provide equity funding for future capital and operating expenditures, and that the Club will not be laden with inappropriate financial indebtedness.
STAKEHOLDERS AND APPROVALS
Throughout this process, we have worked very closely with the UK Government, in particular the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and HM Treasury, as well as with the Premier League, The FA and UEFA. In order to complete the transaction, we needed consents and approvals from all, and in particular from the UK Government.
We have been able to obtain all necessary consents, as well as further licences required in Portugal, Canada and Jersey due to the structure of the previous ownership
We would like to thank all of the bidders for their engagement, effort and participation in this process.
We would also like to thank our men and women footballers, the staff of both teams, everyone in our Academy, and in particular Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes for their patience and support during this process. And, of course, thank you to all our partners, staff and fans during this difficult phase for the Club.
We additionally wish to state our appreciation for the efforts of the Fans’ Forum, Chelsea Supporters Trust, Chelsea Supporters Group, Chelsea Supporters Club and Chelsea Pitch Owners for engaging with bidders and conveying their views and expectations of any new owner.
And finally, we would like to thank for their help, assistance, and support those persons with whom we have worked with at:
The Premier League
The Raine Group
Simmons & Simmons
Ernst & Young
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
And, OF COURSE, Roman Abramovich for 19 amazing, unforgettable years.
The Board of Directors of Chelsea Football Club.