Chelsea FC: A winning bid

May 2, 2022
Sports BusinessSoccer
Chelsea FC: A winning bid

The GIST: English soccer club Chelsea may have finally found its new owner. A group led by Todd Boehly, part-owner of several LA sports teams including the WNBA’s Sparks, reportedly entered exclusive talks to take over the London-based club on Friday.

The context: Current owner Roman Abramovich — a Russian oligarch with ties to president Vladimir Putinwas forced to put the club on the market in March, days after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The details: The group will reportedly pay over $4.4 billion to buy Chelsea, setting the sale price record for any professional sports team. Clearlake Capitalwill hold a majority stake, while Boehly will split the rest with fellow co-owner of MLB’s LA Dodgers Mark Walter and Swiss businessman Hansjörg Wyss. Boehly will oversee the day-to-day.

  • The bid beat out ones from Boston Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca, International Airlines Group deputy chairman Sir Martin Broughton and the U.K.’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Broughton’s bid included tennis icon Serena Williams.

Zooming out: Boehly and company have shared little about their plans for Chelsea, including the club’s successful women’s team. His investment in the Sparks and interest in buying the NWSL’s Washington Spirit are being touted as examples that he’s up to the task, should the sale succeed.

  • One key stakeholder has “no anxieties” about a new ownership group's investment in the women’s team — head coach Emma Hayes. She recently said the team is “fully embedded” in the club and crucial to its overall success. Hear, hear.