The takeover of Chelsea has moved a step closer to completion with confirmation expected soon that the consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly has been put forward as the preferred bidder and will enter exclusive talks with the club..
But there are still several steps to be negotiated before a deal that could be worth up to £4bn is completed.
Boehly’s group – which will be 50% funded by the investment firm Clearlake Capital and added former chancellor George Osborne as an adviser – is to enter exclusive talks with the club having fought off competition from two other shortlisted groups and a late bid from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man.
Raine Group, the US merchant bank overseeing the sale on Roman Abramovich’s behalf, and the West London club’s board must submit an application to have the terms of the government-imposed operating licence amended so a deal can proceed.
That licence, introduced when Abramovich was sanctioned on March 10 owing to his links to Russia president Vladimir Putin, expires at the end of May but the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has already indicated amendments will be made once assurances are received that the oligarch will not make any financial gain.
“Assessments of owners and due diligence are a matter for the club and the Premier League, not the government,” a DCMS spokesman said. “Our role is to consider an application for an amended licence that authorises a sale of the club when it comes forward with a preferred bidder.”
Once the final details are agreed with the club and the terms of the licence is changed, the Boehly group will need to satisfy the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test. The league’s chief executive Richard Masters has previously said the shortest turnaround has been 10 days but there is an acceptance that this is an unprecedented situation and it could be completed even quicker if all is in order.
A significant amount of due diligence on the preferred buyer will likely have been carried out in advance.
“I think the quickest one we have ever done is 10 days but that’s not to say that that record cannot be beaten,” Masters told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit in March. “Normally it will take a number of weeks but that will depend on the complexity of the deal really and the number of potential owners.”