Chelsea may be lumbered with 'debt for 50 years' if no takeover soon, warns Lord Seb Coe

4 May 2022, 12:18

By Sophie Barnett

Lord Sebastian Coe, who is bidding to take over Chelsea FC, has told LBC the club risks having "debt for 50 years" if a deal is not struck soon.

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Lord Coe, who is bidding to take over Chelsea with British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton, said he was motivated to get involved because he is a big fan of the club.

"I joined Martin's [Broughton] bid with one simple proposition - I'm a Chelsea fan of more than 50 years. I was in the ground in 1967, I was born near the ground and still have a house there."

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the financial implications of preventing the club from selling tickets to games could see it rake up debts - unless the takeover is resolved in the coming weeks.

The Government's special licence expires on May 31.

Read more: Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich hands over stewardship of club

"Fans like me want a resolution to this but they want to make sure the club lands in the right hands and that the club isn't lumbered with debt for the next 50 years," he said.

"As someone who's been involved in sport, there is a vacuum here if we're not careful, which is going to impact on the players - it's certainly going to impact on the coaching. To be sitting in a stadium where you're regularly 10,000 fans down because you can't sell seats - there is a problem here.

"The rest of the decisions have to be made properly, there is a process and this is a one-off. You don't see clubs being sold in these circumstances so Government will have to be really clear what it wants out of this."

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Lord Coe added that he wants the club to have "British ownership", explaining that his family are all fans of the club.

Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly's consortium bid is understood to have been selected as preferred bidder by the Raine Group, the New York merchant bank overseeing Chelsea's sale.

Boehly has edged ahead of bids from Sir Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca to receive the preferred bidder status that inches the US tycoon ever closer to a takeover.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's last-minute bid on Friday has given pause to the entire sale process however, with Britain's richest man understood to be pressing on with his candidacy to buy the Blues.

However, fears are thought to have been raised in Government that Roman Abramovich could insist on his loan being repaid, which could jeopardise the entire sale process of the club.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire is understood to have been advised that the UK Government sanctions against him block his plans to write off Chelsea's debt.

The 55-year-old pledged to wipe out his loan to Chelsea when confirming he had put the Stamford Bridge club up for sale on March 2, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Downing Street imposed sanctions on Abramovich on March 10, claiming to have proved the business magnate's links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The terms of those sanctions have left Chelsea's parent company Fordstam Limited frozen, with the Blues operating under a special Government licence.

And now Chelsea's long-term owner expects his loan to the club to be frozen when the sale is completed.

Abramovich vowed to create a new charitable foundation and donate all the proceeds of Chelsea's sale to aid victims of the war in Ukraine when initially putting the Blues up for sale.

The Government is likely to divert the sale proceeds to charitable causes, but Downing Street chiefs could yet also freeze those funds.

Chelsea's sale needs to be completed by May 31, when the Government's special licence expires.