Abramovich invested nearly $2 billion of his personal funds during his 19-year tenure as owner, during which he covered losses of about $1 million a week as he recruited some of the best players in the world. The strategy was expensive but successful: Chelsea enjoyed the most successful period in its history, becoming a serial contender for domestic and international honors and winning five Premier League and two European Cups.
If Boehly’s deal to buy the team goes through with the required approvals from the government and the Premier League, which also has to give its blessing to the sale, his group will have to figure out a way to maintain that successes while paring losses associated with the on-field success and also committing hundreds of millions of dollars to renovating Chelsea’s aging Stamford Bridge stadium, which with a capacity of just over 40,000 is far smaller than the arenas that play host to the Premier League’s biggest teams.
The sale, in keeping with the way it began, has been a curious process, marshaled by Joe Ravitch, a Russian-speaking banker and co-founder of New York-based Raine. The announcement that Chelsea was available for sale attracted interest from across the globe, drawing in a mix of serious candidates with track records of success to fringe figures who appeared to use public interest in buying Chelsea as a means to raise their profiles in the news media.
Ravitch had said little publicly, though made a startling — and as yet unsubstantiated claim — that Chelsea and other Premier League teams could be worth more than $10 billion in five years.
The process, while speedy for a takeover the size of Chelsea’s, also drew derision from some quarters as deadlines for final offers were repeatedly extended to extract the highest price even as the seller, Abramovich, could not expect to get paid. The highly public nature of the sale also meant scrutiny of the sort that led to some embarrassment for potential buyers.
A joint offer involving the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, and the hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, struggled to overcome claims of racism after anti-Muslim emails sent by the family patriarch, Joe Ricketts, in 2019 resurfaced. Efforts to distance the bid from Ricketts and statements underscoring the family’s opposition to racism failed to convince some Chelsea supporters, and the Ricketts pulled out of the process last month, leaving three final bidders.