The Clearklake-Boehly consortium (or whatever we’re calling them) are set to sign the “first contract” today but the sale itself isn’t expected to close for a couple more weeks. As we’ve seen throughout this process, these things take time, even if the whole process has moved along far quicker than deals of such nature and magnitude usually do. (And in fact, there’s never been a sports deal of this magnitude before.)
As reported by CBS’s Ben Jacobs, today’s signing, which may or may not be formally announced, is for a “legally binding agreement”, which then enables the process to move into its final stages. That includes the 7-day vetting period from the Premier League (pretty much a formality, having already “soft vetted” our new owners and their business plans) and of course all the necessary approvals and licences from the UK government to ensure we don’t cease operations at the end of the month.
A legally binding sale agreement does NOT have to be signed by today. The parties will continue beyond Friday if they need to. There is confidence they won’t have to but it’s not a rigid deadline. And from final negotiations to an actual sale, two weeks will likely be needed.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) May 6, 2022
The Broughton consortium apparently remain on standby (not Pagliuca and certainly not Ratcliffe) should something go drastically wrong with the Boehly bid, but that sounds like a fairly remote possibility at this point.
Raine will turn to Sir Martin Broughton if anything unexpected stops Clearlake-Boehly taking over. Sir Jim Ratcliffe is not the back up. Raine are not prepared to engage with the Nice owner at this stage having already communicated in writing he is not part of the process.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) May 6, 2022
With light now at the end of this tunnel, we can start looking forward to what our future as a club might hold. The incoming new owners, as qualified and well-planned and well-financed as they may be, will certainly be different in style and strategy than Roman Abramovich, though Chelsea and Raine Group have seemingly done their best to ensure that the club remain in good hands, which won’t just vulture us easy profits.
The involvement of private equity firm Clearlake Capital, who are providing the majority of the funding (60%) and will have half the voting power (Boehly the other half), has raised some not-unfounded concern that we’d end up in a Glazer-style takeover, but as Sky News details, some safeguards (“anti-Glazer clauses”) are being put into place to try to avoid that.
EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea FC’s new owners could be prevented from paying dividends for ten years and be bound by strict limits on the club’s indebtedness under a package of measures dubbed ‘anti-Glazer clauses’ aimed at avoiding the controversy that dogged Manchester United after…— Mark Kleinman (@MarkKleinmanSky) May 6, 2022
These include a minimum 10-year hold, to 2032, during which time no shares could be sold, no dividends could be taken, or management fees paid out. There are apparently also “strict limits on the level of debt” that the club could take on, with the transaction itself being all-cash (or all-equity), including the £1b+ commitment to further investments in the club (men, women, youth) and the stadium.
Given the circumstances, we’ve done quite alright, methinks.