Reports: Abramovich puts Chelsea up for sale
What's the story?
Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich is exploring the possibility of selling the West London club after 15 years according to reports from the Times. The Russian oligarch, who has overseen a dramatic change in the status of Chelsea since his arrival, has placed a price tag of £2 billion on the Blues according to further reports by the Sun.
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Abramovich has rejected two approaches from investors to buy Chelsea already this year. Earlier in the year, a bid from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos Chemicals, was turned down as the Russian was said to be holding out for an even higher offer.
A second bid was made recently by a US private equity firm, Silver Lake Partners, who were interested in purchasing a minority stake in the club. However, it now appears that Abramovich has changed his mind regarding the sale of the club and is willing to listen to offers in excess of £2 billion.
The heart of the matter
The Chelsea owner's change of heart is a result of his recent disputes with the UK government over the issuing of a visa. Abramovich recently obtained Israeli citizenship in order to enter the UK after a political row between Britain and Russia led to the suspension of visas for numerous high-profile Russian diplomats and businessmen.
Abramovich also stalled on plans to renovate Stamford Bridge in a £500 million project which would increase the stadium's capacity to 60,000. The Blues have also noticeably changed their transfer policy recently, going from one of the highest spending clubs in the world to a much more considered and careful approach during the transfer window.
All of this combined makes it seem like Abramovich is ready to cut his ties with the club and hand over the reins to a group or person with a more vested interest in running Chelsea.
Rumour Rating: 8/10
The Times is a very reliable source and it seems extremely likely that Abramovich will sell Chelsea in the near future. Previous bids indicate that his asking price will not detract potential buyers and we could see new owners at the club by the end of this season.
Should a buyer meet the £2 billion-plus asking price for Chelsea, it would represent a world record takeover, dwarfing the £790 million paid by the Glazers for Manchester United in 2006. There is reported interest from buyers in the Middle East, US, and China with no clear frontrunner for the purchase as of yet.