In the days following Roman Abramovich’s announcement he intended to sell Chelsea Football Club, there were several scoffs from sections of football media that the Russian would be demanding an eye-watering asking price of £3 billion for the club he bought for £150m in 2003.
Given the very real geopolitical situation and the threat of incoming sanctions that eventually came, the rush to sell would lower the price. But over three weeks later and decades’ worth of seismic events, Chelsea now look on course to become the highest ever sale for a sports team in history.
With the sheer amount of money being reported the number of interested parties that have emerged since Raine took over the process, the club’s new era looks set to begin with a record-breaking event.
As reported by The Athletic in a detailed piece earlier this week, many bidders will have to raise their bids closer to £3 billion— a sum that would eclipse the £2.5 billion paid for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center home arena in 2019. Who could have guessed that the reigning European and world champions situated in one of the most expensive cities in the world would attract such interest?
Despite rivals’ scorn about Chelsea’s history pre-Abramovich, the Blues are firmly now situated as one of the country’s biggest clubs. Even in the seven seasons before Abramovich arrived on Fulham Road, Chelsea had the fourth most Premier league points. Also, the third most trophies behind Arsenal and Manchester United.
Since 2003 with four Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns, two Europa League’s, a Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, five FA Cups and three League Cups in the past 19 years, Chelsea are now undeniably sat on Europe’s top table.
Although the club’s reliance on Abramovich’s wealth was brought into harsh reality following the sanctions, the idea the club cannot remain one of the Premier League’s most competitive clubs is pretty naive.
The self-sustainable model that the talent coming out of Cobham offers new ownership a brilliant flow of internal solutions to supplement the first team with talent. Saving money in the transfer window, and as we saw last summer, attract fees if those players don’t make the cut.
Having a shrewder data team and transfer strategy that mirrors those of Liverpool and some of Europe’s best could see Chelsea avoid the awkward transfers that have frustrated fans in recent years. Chelsea’s talented squad was valued at over £800m last year, and despite fears of a mass exodus, the names potentially in contention, particularly Todd Boehly, has proven with other sports teams how investment and the right appointments can lead to consistent success.
With the number of consortiums, groups and names ranking up to over 20 parties, Chelsea’s next owner is going to break records with this sale for a club that rivals have mocked for their “lack of history” and size.
Even some clubs at recent Premier League meetings have raised concerns the sale of Chelsea would create an unfair competitive advantage, particularly with the rules around FFP continuing to be relaxed and Abramovich not asking for the £1.5bn debt to be repaid.
The wrong owner could be devastating for these wishes, and it’s undeniable how precarious the last few weeks have been surrounding Chelsea’s long-term safety. But the sheer amount of interest proves how lucrative a proposition the London club has become.