Chelsea owners raising $950 million debt to ‘reshape’ club – FT


A consortium led by US financier Todd Boehly took over from Roman Abramovich in May

Chelsea’s new owners led by US financier Todd Boehly are raising almost $1 billion in debt as they restructure the London club after taking over from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the Financial Times has reported.

The consortium led by Boehly and including the Clearlake Capital investment group completed their £4.25 billion ($5.1 billion) deal to buy Chelsea in May.

That included £2.5 billion to buy the club and a pledge of a further £1.75 billion investment in its development.

Boehly has promised a reported £200 million investment in new playing talent this summer, with the Blues already bringing in Raheem Sterling from Premier League rivals Manchester City for a deal worth around £47.5 million. That was followed by Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly for an estimated £32 million from Napoli.

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© Henry Browne / Getty Images
New Chelsea owner predicts threats & opportunities

More arrivals are expected to follow, while Boehly and his partners have also vowed to develop the club’s academy and Stamford Bridge stadium.

As they pursue those aims, the FT reports that the new owners are raising around £800 million ($955 million) to “reshape” Chelsea.

That includes approximately £300 million in a so-called revolving credit facility and a £500 million term loan.

Citing a source close to the Chelsea owners, the UK newspaper said that none of the interest burden of the debt would fall on the club, and that no Chelsea assets or revenues were being pledged as part of the arrangements.

Bank of America and JPMorgan were named among the banks involved with the deal.

Hinting at his vision for Chelsea last month, Boehly said the club and fellow Premier League teams could realize more of their financial potential.

“They don’t realize how big their opportunity is,” Boehly said of the global appeal of English football, according to The Telegraph. “Let’s get a hold of our destiny and think about how to optimize this.”

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© Chelsea FC
Russian director exits Chelsea amid sweeping post-Abramovich changes

Boehly, 48, is also co-owner of American baseball team the LA Dodgers. He has been described as “hands-on” since taking the reins at Chelsea, being personally involved in the summer transfer dealings so far.

The American’s arrival heralded the exit of stalwarts of the Chelsea hierarchy under previous owner Abramovich.

The Russian billionaire announced he was putting the Blues up for sale back in March, shortly before being sanctioned by the UK government because of his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich wrote off a £1.6 billion debt he was owed by Chelsea as part of the deal to sell the club, as his 19-tenure came to an end.

Under his stewardship, Chelsea enjoyed the most successful spell in their history, winning five Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns, among a host of other silverware.

Longtime chairman Bruce Buck left his position in June and was followed by director Marina Granovskaia – the Russian-Canadian who had effectively run Chelsea on Abramovich’s behalf in recent years.

Technical and performance adviser Petr Cech, a Chelsea legend from his playing days at the club, later announced his departure.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel last week described his relationship with new owner Boehly as “intense,” revealing that the pair speak on a daily basis.

Boehly was also seen addressing the Chelsea squad during their ongoing US pre-season tour.

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Tuchel discussed working with his new paymasters. © Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
Chelsea manager describes life after Abramovich

US owners have become an increasing feature of the English Premier League, although with varying degrees of popularity.

Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group paymasters, headed by John Henry, are generally seen as running the club competently and have enjoyed success on the pitch.

At the other end of the scale are Manchester United owners the Glazer family, who are widely reviled for their handling of the club and face frequent fan protests for them to leave.

The Glazers used a leveraged buyout to acquire United in 2004, effectively financing the deal with debt. They have been criticized for continuing to take dividends but have afforded substantial outlay on playing talent down the years.

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