There are supposedly “at least three” investors or investment groups just waiting to throw their moneys at Chelsea this week, looking to take advantage of what would essentially be, given the geopolitical circumstances, a forced sale by Roman Abramovich.
The pressure appears to be mounting on the Chelsea owner, certainly in the court of public opinion, media, and moralizing, and while he’s yet to actually be hit with any official sanctions (beyond the ones he was already subject to from the UK government) and suggestions of a sale have been repeatedly denied by Chelsea sources, we certainly seem to be the closest we’ve been in the last two decades to having a change in ownership at the club.
As to who all might be interested in acquiring a “truly global brand” like Chelsea, especially at what might be a decent discount on market price ... the more pertinent question might be, who wouldn’t be? The Telegraph claimed that multiple bids were set to test Abramovich’s resolve this week, at least one of whom were likely to be from the USA, as per Bloomberg. But the first such party to be actually named is Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who may also be a citizen of the United States, where he lives.
Wyss, 86, made his billions in biotech and is apparently a largely shadowy figure known for his liberal leanings, philanthropy, and media meddling. In line with that last bit, he himself dropped this little nugget of information in an interview with Swiss daily Blick, appearing to surprise the journalist as well.
“Abramovich is one of Putin’s closest advisers and friends. Like all other oligarchs, he is also in a panic. Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly. I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.
“I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. Means: Those who buy Chelsea should compensate Abramovich.
“As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price. I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.”
-Hansjörg Wyss; source: Blick via Google Translate
The Internet says Wyss is valued at around £6b, which is less than Abramovich’s net worth, and certainly not quite enough to finance a takeover that probably would start at £2b, even at a discount. (And we “only” owe £1.5b, Hans, bubby!) Bringing in more investors is a standard arrangement of course, but as the number of hands counting moneys and looking at spreadsheets increases, the focus tends to become less and less on winning football. Though whoever follows up Abramovich, and whenever that might or might not happen and in whatever circumstance, even, probably won’t ever be as benevolent to the club as he has been.
In any case, if Abramovich is asking “far too much”, I’m not really seeing how he’s “in a panic”, but regardless of anything else, one does begin to wonder when he might decide that this is all just too much trouble for him personally. We all love Chelsea, the club, the entity, the idea, the shared experience, and we can only assume he does, too — but love only ever saved the day in Interstellar, and that involved traveling through a black hole.
⚽️ #Exclusive: Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss is considering a purchase of @ChelseaFC, as he reveals today in an interview @Blickch The owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovitsch is afraid of sanctions and wants to sell the club to Wyss, among others.https://t.co/ICkPYax9F0— Nicola Imfeld (@nicola_imfeld) March 1, 2022