Another day, another turn in the saga around Chelsea’s pending sale. While the consortium backed by Todd Boehley has reportedly entered a period of exclusivity to sign a purchase agreement for Chelsea, the status of Roman Abramovich’s near-$2 billion loan to the club is murky. There were reports that he may call for the loan to be repaid, but according to the terms of the sale and given Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine which have led to frozen assets, Abramovich cannot collect proceeds from it.
A spokesperson from Abramovich released a statement via Chelsea in an attempt to clear things up, essentially denying he wants the loan repaid.
“Mr. Abramovich has not been involved in this work and it has been managed independently by experts with years of experience working in humanitarian organizations.
“Secondly, Mr. Abramovich has not asked for any loan to be repaid to him — such suggestions are entirely false — as are suggestions that Mr. Abramovich increased the price of the Club last minute. As part of Mr. Abramovich’s objective to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he has however encouraged each bidder throughout this process to commit investing in the Club — including in the Academy, Women’s team, necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of Chelsea Foundation.”
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While the statement does say that Abramovich didn’t ask for the loan to be repaid, it also doesn’t say that the loan will be written off either. The loan becomes subject to European Union sanctions, which would see the funds frozen. But if the sanctions are lifted in the future, that would still leave things in a tricky situation. The statement goes on to reiterate that Abramovich has no access or control of the funds. Most of the concerns aren’t related to what Abramovich can do currently, but what he may do in the future.
Abramovich did see if the loan could be paid to a company and not back to him directly, according to ESPN, which would make this statement true but misleading. More will come out around this as the status of the loan is the major sticking point around Chelsea’s sale and if it does have to be repaid, that could cause Boehley and his consortium to reconsider things leaving the club’s future in doubt. If he were to back out and not reach an agreement during his exclusivity period, other suitors that came up short could be next in line to renegotiate a deal. Chelsea are hoping to get a new ownership group in charge by the time the transfer window rolls around to avoid a mass exodus of players, with Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid) and Andreas Christensen (Barcelona) already set to leave the club.