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Chelsea sale not actually under threat of collapse, despite latest bit of government posturing

Questions of debt and trust

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Chelsea Women v Manchester City Women - Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Headlines earlier today (once again) boldly proclaimed that the sale of Chelsea could (once again) “fall apart” thanks to (once again) the UK government’s latest “alarm” about the handling and fate of the £1.54b debt (which seems to have now been permanently rounded up to £1.6b).

Basically, it was the same story as a couple weeks ago, based on a similar government briefing citing an anonymous “Whitehall source” posturing against the Big Bad of the piece, Roman Abramovich. The Telegraph, the BBC, The Times, Sky, and probably many more (once again) all just ran with those quotes, all at the same time (hello briefing!), doing just about zero actual journalism (once again).

That may work for transfer rumors, but there’s a bit more at stake here. As conditioned and as accepting as we may be of the never-ending deluge of absolute bullcrap published in the football media on an hourly basis, you would hope that the importance of the club’s actual fate would result in better coverage with a more critical eye ... but we’ve been proven wrong once again over and over in that regard.

The fearmongering two weeks ago was quickly debunked with a phone call to the politicians actually involved in this process, a rare statement on behalf of Roman Abramovich reaffirming his intentions, and a common sense (!) idea of a “backstop” was even floated since the handling of this debt specifically shouldn’t really matter to the sales process itself. Once the club changes hands, the government and Abramovich and Raine Group (who are handling the actual transaction) can figure out the details with all their sanctions and frozen accounts and whatnot, and (presumably) leave us alone.

This time around, the fearmongering was (once again) quickly put to bed with a simple phone call to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who are in fact (once again) not alarmed and are working through this process diligently. There’s plenty of bureaucratic red tape to deal with here, and those things take time — even in this accelerated deal.

As reported by CBS’s Ben Jacobs, the process remains on track to complete before the end of the month, and the expiration of our current operational licence, as well as the deadline for Premier League registration, which is June 8. It’s obviously not a straightforward deal, though thanks largely to the government’s own making, their constant desire to massage the optics of the situation, and to make things seemingly as complicated for us as possible isn’t helpful.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the former CEO of UNICEF UK and Soccer Aid, Mike Penrose, has apparently been recruited to head up the prospective Foundation that is set to be established with the proceeds of Chelsea’s sale. Penrose already wants the politicians to [FUN] right off from this process, which is probably an excellent first step.