Roman Abramovich £1.6bn loan explained and why Chelsea takeover is now ‘in doubt’

Chelsea’s takeover could be delayed amid fears Roman Abramovich could U-turn on his pledge to write off the £1.6bn he has loaned the club.

A source told i that there are fears the issue could now interfere with the sale of the club, which has been set a deadline of 31 May.

The Times report that there has been an attempt to restructure the sale of the club, which would entail paying off a debt from Chelsea’s parent company Fordstam Ltd to a Jersey-based company called Camberley International Investments, which appears to have links to Abramovich.

In June, the Premier League will meet to draw up plans for the 2022-23 season and will require the club to be fully licensed to operate; they are currently operating under a special license granted by the UK government following the decision to sanction Abramovich in March, freezing his assets due to alleged links to Vladimir Putin’s regime, which he has denied.

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That makes a takeover all the more pressing, but it has been thrown into doubt over the question of what will happen to the proceeds of the sale.

Under the sanctions imposed on Abramovich, the billionaire is not permitted to earn a penny from selling Chelsea, the club he acquired in 2003. He has also been disqualified as a director of the club by the Premier League.

In order to facilitate the sale, he originally promised to effectively write off the money owed to him, stating funds would be directed to “all the victims of the war in Ukraine”. The UK government will have discretion as to where the proceeds of the sale will go.

i reported on 2 March that Abramovich was already facing a race against time to complete a transfer of ownership, with Chelsea’s future potentially at risk, but that could now be further complicated if he seeks the repayment of the £1.6bn loan in question.

A consortium led by Todd Boehly is currently the preferred bidder, but British businessman Jim Ratcliffe is also still thought to be in the running.

Chelsea did not comment.

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