There is a small though non-zero chance that Chelsea would have to change ownership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — not by choice, but by force — if the UK government were to implement severe sanctions on Roman Abramovich. While so far we’ve avoided any additional measures beyond the already existing ones on the owner (i.e. no work visa), in theory, the government could go as far as seizing all of his UK-based assets, which would include Fordstam Ltd, technically the parent company of Chelsea Football Club.
While that would be quite extreme, and well beyond the so-far standard response of only freezing assets of several prominent Russian billionaires and companies, were that to happen, the government would then be expected to “carve out” the club and allow it to continue to operate (and keep paying all the employees). An auction and sale to the highest bidder would then presumably follow, and it sounds like there would be no shortage of interest, as one would expect.
According to a report from Bloomberg, at least one inquiry has been made this month already, while several other “sports investors and private equity firms” (in the US and beyond) are drawing up “potential takeover offers”. Chelsea are valued anywhere from £2 to £3 billion, if not more, depending on who you ask, easily covering the £1.5b that we owe to Abramovich through zero-interest loans (from himself to ... himself), and are seen as “one of the true global brands” not just in football but in sports in general.
While that sounds far less enticing than having a football-loving rich person calling the shots and continually pouring the money in, it would probably ensure that we remain competitive at the highest levels of the game. After all, there was already a fairly successful club here before Roman, and probably will be here long after as well. Abramovich had fielded offers in recent years from the likes of Todd Boehly (LA Dodgers) and Sir James Ratcliffe (OGC Nice), but has clearly remained very committed to the club, making him just about the best owner in football over the past two decades — though we may be biased.
We can only hope that the situation in Ukraine resolves quickly and amicably, he said naïvely.