Consequences for Chelsea when billionaire Abramovich sold the club

03 Mar 2022 | 13:39 | Football

The latest message from Roman Abramovich speaks to the love and importance of this businessman in Chelsea history. His departure will represent a major turning point for the club.

Chelsea fans were mixed with joy when they read the announcement confirming the sale of billionaire Abramovich’s club. They are glad that in the end, the 55-year-old from Russia still expressed his love for Chelsea and was ready to write off the club’s £1.5 billion debt.

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“I will not ask to repay any of the club’s debts (for me – PV) ,” Chelsea quoted Abramovich as saying. “For me, owning Chelsea has never been a business. My love for Chelsea is pure passion for the king’s sport.”

However, Chelsea fans also have reason to be sad and worried. Not many football entrepreneurs are as generous and impartial as Mr Abramovich. From the position of a spending team not inferior to Man City or Paris Saint-Germain, “The Blues” can fall into a scenario like Manchester United or worse than Arsenal.

Hard to find the second Abramovich

Nearly two decades have passed since Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140m. Since 2003, the amount of investment of the Russian businessman in Chelsea has increased gradually over the years. The “non-repayable debt” Mr Abramovich said in the message was Chelsea’s £1.5 billion debt to Fordstam Ltd, Chelsea’s parent company.

Fordstam Ltd is owned by Mr. Abramovich and has lent money to “The Blues” so far. According to statistics from KPMG, Mr. Abramovich has spent more than £ 2 billion for Chelsea since owning the club. In the transfer market, the London club is not afraid of any opponent. The loan Chelsea received from the Russian owner was larger than the total amount spent on transfers in Arsenal’s history.

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Chelsea’s change of owner will change the face of the club in the near future. Photo: Sky Sports.

Mr. Abramovich not only invests in Chelsea in buying players. The above £2 billion amount also helps Chelsea to upgrade facilities and build a youth training academy. The academy system of “The Blues” has been rated among the top in the world in the past decade.

From a team without much training tradition, Chelsea’s academy is now on par with Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid or Manchester United in producing quality players.

In 2018, Mr. Abramovich rejected the offer to buy Chelsea from businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe. If he agreed to sell “The Blues” then, Mr Abramovich could earn nearly £2 billion, nearly eight times more than he spent in 2003.

In 2020, sources from the Chelsea board said that Mr. Abramovich did not see the club as a trendy hobby or just to build influence. Chelsea is like a child raised by this billionaire himself.

However, the events occurring on the world political stage caused the Russian businessman to make difficult decisions. Mr. Abramovich is not on the list of sanctions and asset freezes of the British government. But observers predict that this billionaire will hardly avoid retaliation from Western officials.

Even Mr. Abramovich’s race against time to find someone to buy Chelsea also shows the concern of the Russian billionaire. Mr. Hansjorg Wyss is one of four people who received an offer to buy Chelsea from Mr. Abramovich. The 86-year-old billionaire said he and three others received an offer to buy Chelsea from Abramovich on Tuesday.

 

“Now I will have to wait 4-5 days. Abramovich demanded too high a price (for Chelsea – PV)” , Mr. Wyss told Blick daily. Disclosure from a Swiss businessman can be a ploy in business negotiations. Potential partners know Mr. Abramovich’s predicament and they have the right to pressure to buy Chelsea at a reasonable price.

The move not to ask Chelsea to repay the £1.5 billion debt from Abramovich comes less than 24 hours after the billionaire Wyss interview with Swiss media.

In the same interview, businessman Wyss said he certainly did not buy Chelsea alone. Not many entrepreneurs are willing to have enough potential to own a big club like Chelsea. The number of billionaires willing to spend billions of pounds to raise a football club is even rarer.

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Without the support from Mr. Abramovich, Chelsea’s plan to build a new stadium is unlikely to come true in the near future. Photo: The Times.

Chelsea is difficult to keep position

In his book Soccernomics, author Simon Kuper argues that European football is an expensive and mostly unprofitable business for club owners. Without generous owners willing to spend their own money, most of Europe’s top teams are prone to falling into a losing spiral when things go wrong.

The current Barcelona crisis is the clearest example of this point of view. The strongest clubs in Europe are currently the ones whose owners are willing to “burn money” the most. They are Man City, PSG and Chelsea. Over the past two decades, “The Blues” have risen to become the top team in the world thanks to Mr. Abramovich’s pocket money. PSG and Man City then followed this trend.

The two clubs mentioned above have great support from the governments of Qatar and the UAE. Coach Arsene Wenger once said that PSG’s reckless shopping in the transfer market is obvious when “a club is owned by an entire country”.

In the context of PSG and Man City rising strongly in the past half decade, Chelsea still competes fairly with these two clubs on the football field thanks to Mr. Abramovich’s generosity in the transfer market. Kai Havertz, who scored Chelsea’s victory over Man City in the Champions League final last season, is a contract guaranteed by the Russian owner.

The Times revealed that when Chelsea prepared to buy Havertz for more than £70 million from Leverkusen, financial backing from Mr Abramovich helped make the deal go smoothly. It should be remembered that in the financial statements published at the end of 2021, Chelsea lost more than 146 million pounds.

Just a few months before, they spent £ 97.5 million to recruit Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan, the most expensive purchase in the club’s history. At that time, the Chelsea board also received assurances from Mr. Abramovich in the Lukaku case.

Without Mr. Abramovich, Chelsea may be in a situation of “austerity”. Kieran Maguire, a sports finance expert from Liverpool University, predicts that “The Blues” can completely follow in the footsteps of Arsenal or Manchester United.

“The model that American businessmen apply at Arsenal or Man United may make fans hate, but from an economic point of view, it is the most profitable solution for the club owner,” said Maguire.

Billionaire Wyss was contacted by Todd Boehly, an American businessman about the possibility of cooperating to buy Chelsea. Mr. Boehly may not be the only American involved in the acquisition of the Stamford Bridge team. Chelsea fans have the right to worry about the above information. Owners from the West are often more pragmatic than players from Russia or the Middle East in the football business.

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