The saga that is Roman Abramovich’s attempted sale of Chelsea keeps delivering plot twists as billions of dollars remain on the line.
The UK government is set to approve Roman Abramovich’s sale of Chelsea as it emerged Portugal may need to sign off on the deal because the Russian billionaire has a Portuguese passport.
The Sun reports the government is finally prepared to sign off the proposed $7.5 billion sale to the consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly.
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The Sun has been told the UK government believes Abramovich has now given sufficient undertakings for the Treasury and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to sign off on the takeover.
The oligarch has provided legally binding guarantees over the $2.8b loan he provided, which helped fund Chelsea over the past 19 years, and promises none of it will go to him or his family.
That was seen as the last impediment to a sale, clearing the way for Boehly to take the helm.
Under the terms of sanctions imposed on him because of his ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Abramovich was barred from profiting over the sale of the English Premier League giants.
Initially the 55-year-old accepted those terms, but suspicions later emerged he was trying to arrange the sal in a way that could see that $2.8b funnelled back to him or his associates.
With that dilemma now sorted, it has led British politicians to give the green light to Abramovich’s sale of Chelsea. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal just yet.
Government sources in the UK claim senior European Union officials are blocking the deal because they have yet to accept the terms of the sale.
Abramovich has also been sanctioned by the EU, as well as Britain, over his alleged backing for Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
And EU financial chiefs have made some technical objections that have so far not been resolved, meaning they could refuse to ratify the sale.
One UK government insider said: “The deal has major hurdles to overcome.
“Everyone wants to get the deal done, but with the complicated nature of the deal and the Chelsea ownership structures, nothing is simple.
“We are working hard to assure our international partners who rightly want their own assurances on this deal and of course how the proceeds will eventually be spent.”
UEFA regulations mean unless Chelsea have an operating agreement in place by June 9 they cannot be entered into next season’s Champions League, while the current licence runs out at the end of this month.
The source warned: “Time is rapidly running out, this deal has to get done by the end of Tuesday, otherwise major football deadlines may be missed and the club will be at risk.”
Last week reports emerged out of the UK about the government’s “alarm” at the sale breaking down because of a sticking point over Abramovich’s $2.8b loan.
However, that appears to have been settled and now the ball is in the EU’s court.
This article first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission