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A group led by former Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital has reached agreement to buy Chelsea Football Club that will make it the 10th Premier League team to be fully or partly backed by US  investment.

The £4.25bn transaction includes a £2.5bn purchase of shares in Chelsea plus £1.75bn for further investments to benefit the club, according to a statement on Friday confirming earlier reports by Bloomberg News and others.

The sale still requires approval from the British government, which sanctioned the club’s current owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, in March after the invasion of Ukraine. Boehly’s consortium members also must satisfy the Premier League’s rules for owners and directors.

The sale proceeds will be deposited into a frozen UK bank account with the intention to donate 100% of them to charitable causes as confirmed by Abramovich, according to the statement. Government approval will be required for the proceeds to be transferred from that account, Chelsea said in the statement.

The £1.75bn to be invested by Boehly’s group will go to the club’s Stamford Bridge and Kingsmeadow stadiums, as well as to its women’s team, youth player development academy and the Chelsea Foundation, according to the statement.

Chelsea said the sale is expected to be completed in late May.

The buyer’s group includes Swiss business-person Hansjoerg Wyss and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter, Bloomberg News has reported. Clearlake Capital will have a stake of about 61%, said a person familiar with the transaction who asked not to be identified because that information is not public.

Boehly and Walter are co-owners of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers. The group has not formally declared its members or their shareholdings.

Chelsea has been one of Europe’s top teams over the past 20 years, and under Abramovich became last season’s European champions. Despite its success on the pitch, the club was still losing $1.2m a week, according to Kieran Maguire, lecturer in football finance at Liverpool University.

The sale of the club, managed by the New York-based bank Raine Group, attracted bidders from around the world, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The four front-runners, though, were largely US financed.

A fifth bidder for Chelsea, the British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, came in late, with a bid also worth £4.25bn. That offer was “rejected out of hand by Raine,” Tom Crotty, a director at Ratcliffe-owned chemicals producer Ineos Group, said on Wednesday.

The first English team to attract American capital was Manchester United in 2003 when the Glazer family bought a 2.9% stake, according to CIES Sports Intelligence. Two years later the Glazers bought the club outright for more than £700m. million pounds.

Boehly’s deal for Chelsea continues a busy period for American investors drawn to European football. Miami-based 777 Partners has built up a stable of historically significant clubs, including Italy’s Genoa and Standard Liege in Belgium.

The Italian club Venezia was bought in 2020 by Duncan Niederauer, a former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. Italy’s Spezia, Milan and Fiorentina teams are also American-owned.

Redbird Capital bought Toulouse in France, which has just been promoted to Ligue 1. In February, Stephen Pagliuca, who was one of the disappointed Chelsea bidders, bought a majority stake in Italy’s Atalanta club.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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