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UK government open to amending Licence to allow sale of Chelsea Football Club

Five bidders closing in, reportedly

Chelsea Football Club In Turmoil After Owner Sanctioned Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The General Licence under which Chelsea are allowed to continue operating despite being a “frozen asset” of Roman Abramovich contains several restrictions, including one on any potential sale of the club, which we were in the process of doing when the sanctions were announced and implemented.

But as expected, the UK government are open to amending this Licence to allow the sale to take place, as long as the proceeds don’t benefit Abramovich in any way, shape, or form. Of course, Abramovich had already made it clear that he didn’t want any of his money back, nor any of the “net proceeds”, so all the government have to do is allow Raine Group to get back to doing their thing in conducting this process, and then set up the charitable foundation to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine — again as Abramovich had intended to do.

DCMS technology minister Chris Philp confirmed that the conditions can be “varied” if necessary, and if the proper requests are made.

“As the licence conditions are written today, the sale would not be allowed. However, if a buyer emerged it would be open to that buyer or to that football club to approach the government and ask for the conditions to be varied in a way that allows that sale to take place.”

-Chris Philp; source: Sky via Reuters

Chelsea were already intended to engage the government in discussion about some of the other restrictions in the License, such as the caps placed on matchday and travel expenditures, not to mention merchandising sales, so requests about the sales process can be just rolled into that. I would guess that Abramovich himself wouldn’t put up any new barriers to that process, though I’m just speculating.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed that Chelsea are in contact and changes are possible.

“We’re in constant contact with the club ... It’s now up to the club to apply for any amended licence. Chelsea have said that they will do that, and we’ll obviously work with the club and ... the league to consider any operationally necessary changes.”

-Boris Johnson’s spokesman; source: Reuters

Reuters claim that there are five bidders actively involved in the process already, up from the three reported just yesterday. Only Nick Candy, Chelsea fan and celebrity property developer is mentioned by name, though he’s not one of the leading candidates last we heard.