- Chelsea confirms deal with new owners; see details and purchase prices
By buying the club from the capital in 2003, for 140 million pounds (R$ 877 million at the current price), the Russian oligarch inaugurated the reign of owners with unlimited financial resources, who changed the face of European and world football.
At Stamford Bridge, a sign declares support for Roman Abramovich in Chelsea v Newcastle – Photo: Reuters
At this time Abramovich was not very well known, but already immensely wealthy. The short, white-bearded 55-year-old millionaire, who owns a massive 15-bedroom residence in London’s Kensington borough, became incredibly wealthy in the 1990s after the arrival of the market economy in Russia. Born in Saratov, southern Russia, orphaned at an early age and raised by an uncle, young Roman grew up in the north of the country and studied mathematics in Moscow, before launching himself into the business world. He was just 30 years old when the Russian government sold a majority of shares in the vast Sibneft oil group for $100 million, a fraction of its real value. Abramovich would resell them in 2005 to public giant Gazprom for $13 billion.
While diversifying his investments from oil to aluminum, passing through automobiles, he also forged ties with important politicians, financing, along with other businessmen, the reelection campaign of President Boris Yeltsin in 1996. He then entered the circle of oligarchs with close ties to the president’s entourage. But he kept a healthy distance from influence struggles, thus escaping the fate of his own business partner Boris Berezovski, a fierce critic of power, found dead in his 2013 home in England.
In 2003, he decided to launch himself in the sport. After thinking about Tottenham for a while, he opted for Chelsea, a club in dire financial straits that only had one English league under their belt and a handful of FA Cups. The rise was rapid, with a first Premier League title in 2005 and another in 2006.
Mourinho celebrates his first English title with Chelsea (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP)
A “miracle” that can be explained by the colossal sums spent, like the 4.2 million pounds ($5.2 million) salary offered in 2004 to attract José Mourinho, who had just won the Champions League with Porto . In the first preseason, the Blues spent €170 million ($179 million) on signings and almost the same the following year. Important sums today, but back then they were much more.
Abramovich was as ruthless as a sports manager as he was as a businessman. In 19 years as president of the club, thirteen coaches have been there. The results followed with more league titles (2010, 2015, 2017), 5 FA Cups and 3 League Cups. In 2012, Chelsea rose to the throne of European football by winning the Champions League, just like in 2021, to which it added the Club World Cup.
Compared to other millionaire owners like the sheikhs who have controlled Manchester City since 2008, Abramovich’s financial commitment has continued. After remaining loyal to the club, he pre-empted British government sanctions following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine by putting the club up for sale on 2 March.
Abramovich and Azplicueta with the trophy: Club World Cup was the only title missing for the Russian mogul since he became owner of the club in 2003 – Photo: Chelsea official website
Meet the new Chelsea owners
Todd Boehly is a co-owner of two sports franchises in the United States: the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers. In addition to him, names such as screenwriter Jonathan Goldstein and Swiss Hansjörg Wyss are part of the consortium. Most of the shares, however, will be held by the US financial company Clearlake Capital.
Once the purchase is made official, Chelsea will be freed from a series of punishments they received in February, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine broke out. Considered one of Abramovich’s assets, the club was banned from buying and selling players, as well as renewing contracts.
Approval of the transaction will be subject to a Premier League process. The English league will test all members of the consortium. Only then will Chelsea be able to apply for a new government license to complete the deal.
Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s new owner — Photo: Getty Images