Roman Abramovich has received several serious bids in the region of £3billion to buy Chelsea – as Newcastle co-owner Amanda Staveley says the Russian has been treated unfairly.
Abramovich announced his decision to sell Chelsea on Wednesday evening, saying he believes “it is in the best interest of the club” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Further offers for the Champions League holders are expected, according to the PA news agency, amid high interest in one of the world’s most attractive and high-profile football assets.
Chelsea’s bosses and the team around the sale are expected to review the credible bids once all offers are submitted.
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly are understood to be two of the parties interested in buying Chelsea but British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has ruled himself out, saying there is “no substance” to reports he is looking to bid for his boyhood club.
Meanwhile, Staveley has said Abramovich has been treated unfairly and has dismissed concerns about the Saudi-backed £300m takeover of Newcastle.
Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, she said: “We are always going to have geopolitical issues. This world is never going to not have problems, and I know it is really hard and I am really sad today that someone [Roman Abramovich] is going to have a football club [Chelsea] taken away because of a relationship they may have with someone [Russia president Vladimir Putin]. I do not think that is particularly fair, actually, to be honest.
“But I also think that we have to hold all of our relationships to account. And I think that we have also got to remember with Saudi [Arabia] that it is an incredibly big, important country that I love. I love the people there. It is a young, vibrant population and I have seen Saudi [Arabia] change so much.
“And I am not talking now as [from a perspective of] Newcastle, I am talking as me. So these are my thoughts because I have really got to know a lot of people, and I am excited that… I would rather everybody look and get excited about football than being involved in war.”
Abramovich has so far not been sanctioned by the UK Government, who on Thursday announced a “a full asset freeze and travel ban” on Uzbekistan-born Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov over his alleged links to Vladimir Putin’s regime.
The sanctions came a day after Everton suspended all commercial and sponsorship activities with Usmanov’s companies USM, Megafon and Yota in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Chelsea’s summer transfer plans have been thrown into doubt following Abramovich’s decision to sell the club, with the Premier League side unlikely to be able to invest heavily in the summer window unless a wealthy new owner is found in the next few months.
The Russian billionaire has bankrolled the Blues since his takeover in 2003, with his funding helping Chelsea to win 19 major trophies during his reign.
Abramovich’s support has continued even since 2018, when he became a less visible presence at Stamford Bridge after withdrawing his application for a UK visa, with the west London side breaking their transfer record to sign Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m from Inter Milan last summer.
Q&A: Roman Abramovich selling Chelsea – all you need to know on timings, reasons, transfers and more
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol answers the most pressing questions
The reason Roman Abramovich wants to sell Chelsea is because he is facing the threat of being sanctioned by the UK Government. If that was to happen, potentially all his assets in the UK could be frozen and he would lose control of the club. He’s already trying to sell £200m worth of property in central London, and his most valuable UK asset is Chelsea, so it makes sense he would try to sell the club as quickly as possible.
We had the situation yesterday where the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, stood up in the House of Commons and directly asked Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, why Abramovich had not already been sanctioned. Johnson said he could not comment on individual cases. So obviously while this threat of sanctions is hanging over him, it makes sense for Abramovich to try to sell Chelsea as quickly as possible.
At the moment, in the current climate, it would be difficult to sell Chelsea quickly. If you were trying to buy a flat in London or anywhere in the UK, for instance, right now you would be asked some very serious questions – where is the money coming from and where is it going to?
A lot of Russian banks have been sanctioned, so it’s very difficult to do business with Russian oligarchs or any Russian banks whatsoever. I don’t think it is going to be simple.
Speaking at the Financial Times’ business of football summit, Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, said: “I think the situation has escalated incredibly quickly over the last seven days and he’s [Abramovich] come to the right conclusion. It’s unsustainable in the current environment.
“So it’s a welcome decision and obviously, for the sake of everybody – including the fans – as soon as the sale process concludes, everyone has certainty.”
Masters said the quickest sale of a Premier League club was 10 days, but normally it takes a few weeks and depends on the complexity of the information involved – and in this case, it’s very, very complex.