The Government have approved Todd Boehly’s £4.25billion Chelsea takeover.
Following on from Tuesday night’s statement from the Premier League confirming they have given the sale the green light – Whitehall have now followed suit. They are satisfied ‘that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual.’
A statement read: ‘Late last night the UK Government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea Football Club.
‘Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the Government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea Football Club has been able to continue to play football. But we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.
‘Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. 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 steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for necessary licences required and we thank them for all their co-operation.’
The news comes after the Premier League board approved the proposed takeover of the Blues by the Boehly/Clearlake Consortium.
Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly had already agreed a £4.25bn purchase of the Premier League club, with Abramovich’s ownership poised to end after 19 years.
The Government has finally issued a licence to allow Chelsea to be sold to Todd Boehly
Secretary of State for the DCMS Nadine Dorries revealed the news via Twitter on Wednesday
Abramovich (left) had hoped for some time to have been able to satisfy Government (PM Boris Johnson pictured right) expectations on how to handle his £1.5bn loan to Chelsea
As Sportsmail revealed on Monday, the final details being ironed out were linked to the fact current owner Abramovich holds a Portuguese passport meaning the takeover was required to be approved by authorities there, too.
Ministers were in talks with their Portuguese and European Commission counterparts to provide them with the assurances they needed to approve the deal.
A statement from the Premier League on Tuesday evening read: ‘The Premier League Board has today approved the proposed takeover of Chelsea Football Club by the Todd Boehly/Clearlake Consortium.
‘The purchase remains subject to the Government issuing the required sale licence and the satisfactory completion of the final stages of the transaction.’
Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich had hoped for some time to have been able to satisfy Government expectations on how to handle his £1.5bn loan to Chelsea.
The 55-year-old was thought to be confident those demands had been reached, after rejecting claims he wanted the loan repayed, and now Downing Street has given the go-ahead.
The Premier League statement on Tuesday added: ‘The Board has applied the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test (OADT) to all prospective Directors, and undertaken the necessary due diligence.
‘The members of the Consortium purchasing the club are affiliates of the Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., Todd Boehly, Hansjorg Wyss and Mark Walter.
There has been huge uncertainty surrounding Chelsea since sanctions were imposed
‘Chelsea FC will now work with the relevant Governments to secure the necessary licences to complete the takeover.’
US magnate Boehly will become Chelsea’s controlling owner once the takeover is complete, though California investment firm Clearlake Capital will assume the majority shareholding.
Boehly’s consortium completing the takeover will bring to an end a 12-week saga that was sparked by Abramovich officially putting the Blues up for sale on March 2.
Chelsea’s players and staff found out the club was being sold at Kenilworth Road, amid final preparations for their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Luton.
The Blues prevailed 3-2 despite the obvious distractions, as Abramovich released a statement pledging to write off the club’s debt and set up a foundation to aid victims of the war in Ukraine.
Abramovich was then sanctioned by the UK Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have proven his links to Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea were put under a strict Government operating licence, with all of Abramovich’s other UK assets frozen.
Once Boehly’s takeover is complete the Blues will be able to return to business as usual – and there will be no time to lose on reconfiguring the playing squad.
The sanctions meant Chelsea could not conduct any transfer business, with either existing players or external targets.
Todd Boehly profile: His business interests include the LA Dodgers, LA Lakers, a TV company and song catalogue of Bruce Springsteen… the US financier favours diplomacy and has won hearts and minds in his bid to buy Chelsea
When Todd Boehly was asked to identify the key to his success in the boardroom, the American’s answer revealed a businessman who valued diplomacy above ruthlessness. ‘When I’m negotiating, the objective is not to get the best deal for myself but to make a deal that’s fair to all parties involved,’ Boehly told a school reunion in Maryland.
‘Most people try to wring every penny for themselves. That strategy earns them more money on one specific deal but it doesn’t build trust or long-lasting relationships.’
Boehly has certainly worked hard to satisfy the interested parties in the Chelsea takeover, beating a set of formidable opponents to become the preferred bidder, involving in his consortium two prominent season-ticket holders and promising fans he would rebuild Stamford Bridge rather than seek an alternative home.
Todd Boehly at the MLB game between the LA Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds in April
He also engaged the consultancy services of a former Chancellor’s firm shortly before the process sought Government approval. There might be some doubt over whether he will trump Jim Ratcliffe’s late bid to earn Abramovich’s blessing instead, but there is no doubt Boehly has won hearts and minds over the past two months, much as he appears to have done elsewhere in life to date.
A sign of the respect that he can inspire in others can be drawn from the detail of that Landon School reunion in 2014. Five former class-mates turned up to the unveiling of a wrestling room named in his honour at the private education establishment. Boehly had served on the wrestling team that won an interstate championship in 1990 and 1991.
Two of Boehly’s teachers also attended, including Steve Sorkin, who taught maths and served as a mentor for the teenage Boehly even beyond his graduation. Boehly recalled seeking advice from ‘Sork’ when struggling at The College of William & Mary in Virginia, the second-oldest university in the United States after Harvard.
American tycoon Boehly on course to become new Chelsea owner after Government approval
‘College overwhelmed me, my grades started to suffer and I started to languish. So I came back to Landon and I talked to Mr Sorkin,’ said Boehly. ‘It was Sork’s idea to go study at the London School of Economics. He said, “You need a redo, so go find it”. And for that I’ll forever be grateful.’
The sojourn reinvigorated Boehly and is said to have inspired in him an enduring love of the city. On graduating with a degree in finance, his career then began in earnest in 1996 at CS First Boston in New York, the investment banking division of Credit Suisse.
From there he went to the venture capitalists JH Whitney & Co and on to Guggenheim Partners in 2001, launching a credit-management business for the financial services giant. His notable contributions to it included advising clients to avoid investing in several companies where major fraud was subsequently exposed, among them the energy company Enron.
Working alongside chief executive Mark Walter, also part of the Chelsea consortium, Boehly’s commitment helped him rise to the position of president and was illustrated in an anecdoted reported by Forbes.
According to its website, while assessing the insurance firm Security Benefit, Boehly abandoned a Kansas hotel because it smelled of cigarettes and slept on a park bench. Guggenheim bought the company for £318million.
Boehly’s business interests include NBA basketball side Los Angeles Lakers
‘I just kind of lived with a simple mantra, if I said I was going to do it I’d get it done,’ he told Yahoo last year. ‘And when you have a reputation for being able to get stuff done it’s amazing what stuff ends up piling up in your inbox.’
In 2015, Boehly, 46, realised a long-held ambition to set up his own business. He began by taking with him several of the assets acquired at Guggenheim, including film-industry bible The Hollywood Reporter, the TV company Dick Clark Productions, three years on from its £278m purchase, and Security Benefit.
Seven years later, Eldridge Industries holds assets worth £32billion, with stakes in dozens of businesses.
Its diverse portfolio includes Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, NBA side Los Angeles Lakers, the song catalogues of Bruce Springsteen and The Killers, as well as myriad technology and property interests. The latter includes Cain International, headquartered in London with Jonathan Goldstein, another member in the Chelsea bid, as its chief executive. Other key figures on Boehly’s team include Chelsea fans Daniel Finkelstein, a journalist, PR executive Barbara Charone, as well as ex-Chancellor George Osborne.
Boehly is known in the US for his philanthropy, having invested in his alma mater William & Mary as well as several medical charities. Among countrymen, however, he is perhaps most celebrated for his work with the Dodgers. Under Guggenheim’s management and with Boehly serving as a partner, the franchise’s World Series victory in 2020 was its first in 22 years. The TV deal he struck had been crucial to investing in the roster.
Boehly’s ambition had been realised. For, when asked what would constitute a successful ownership of the team, he said: ‘You’re not really asking me that, are you? The more World Series we win, the more valuable a franchise it is, right?’
Chelsea fans will hope he blends his diplomacy with similar bullishness.