Chelsea’s takeover is under threat with the UK government accusing Roman Abramovich of delaying the sale and claiming he is ‘willing to let the club go under’.
A consortium led by American businessman Todd Boehly has been expected to complete a £4.25 billion takeover of Chelsea by the end of this month.
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Chelsea were initially put up for sale by Abramovich before he was sanctioned by the UK government in March, which means he cannot claim any money from the deal.
But a government insider claims there is now growing concern over the £1.6bn loan which Chelsea’s parent company Fordstam Limited owes to Camberley International Investments, a Jersey-registered account which has links with Abramovich.
It’s understood that Abramovich is requesting that the £1.6bn debt is repaid before being frozen and then transferred to the new foundation set up which will see all of the proceeds of Chelsea’s sale go to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
But the government says it is wary of an attempt from Abramovich to ‘divert’ the funds.
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‘There’s quite serious concern in government that the deal may fall apart and that Roman Abramovich is ultimately willing to let Chelsea go under,’ a government source said.
‘There’s alarm in government about the gap between what Abramovich has said he will do publicly and what he’s willing to commit to legally as part of the sale process.
‘There are pressing deadlines this week, and if there isn’t a breakthrough, we’re quite concerned that the sale of Chelsea could be timed out by certain sporting deadlines.’
A Whitehall insider told the BBC: ‘Two big sticking points remain – where exactly the proceeds of the sale will be held, and what legal guarantees government will be given about the money going to good causes.
‘Essentially, despite committing to all proceeds going to good causes in public, Abramovich seems unwilling to give the same legal commitments, which would have backed up his public statements of about a week ago, that in the deal neither he nor his affiliates could basically try and stake a claim to that unpaid debt between Fordstam and Camberley.
‘A deal which would allow the cash to be diverted during the deal would be a breach of sanctions and is seen as a red line for ministers.’
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