ROMAN Abramovich has been accused of blocking the final sale of Chelsea – and putting the club’s future in danger.
In a remarkable cranking up of pressure, sources close to the Government have turned their fire on the Russian over the proposed sale condition.
Roman Abramovich could be preventing Chelsea being sold over the £1.6bn loanCredit: AP
Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and his consortium were hopeful of completing a £2.6bn initial deal with a promise to spend a further £1.65bn on the stadium, academy and team-building by the end of this week.
But the ongoing spat between Chelsea and the DCMS over the final structure of the agreement has now broken out into a serious issue.
A Government insider expressed “considerable alarm” at the flare-up, suggesting the very viability of the Blues could be at threat.
The source said: “There’s quite serious concern in government that the deal may fall apart and that Roman Abramovich is ultimately willing to let Chelsea go under.”
The sticking point remains Government demands that the entire £2.6bn from Boehly be placed in a holding account until officials are satisfied all the money will then go to a foundation to help victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But Chelsea and Abramovich maintain their wish for the £1.6bn debt owed by the club’s parent company Fordstam – effectively money owed to the Russian owner over his 19-year reign – be sent to a Jersey-registered investment company before being sent on to the foundation.
Chelsea’s demand is that the money would be frozen after being transferred to Camberley International Investments ahead of being moved to the foundation.
But the Government believes that would break the sanctions imposed on Abramovich and other oligarchs for their alleged support on Vladimir Putin and his war machine in March.
Officials have told Chelsea such a move would leave them with no legal guarantees that cash would not end up in the hands of Abramovich or his associates and family.
The source added: “There’s alarm about the gap between what Abramovich has said he will do publicly and what he’s willing to commit to legally as part of the sale process.
“There are pressing deadlines this week, and if there isn’t a breakthrough, we’re quite concerned that the sale of Chelsea could be timed out by certain sporting deadlines.
“Chelsea are saying to us they don’t know who owns Camberley International and can’t talk to them. We cannot contact Camberley International to talk about this.
“Our understanding of the structure is that Camberley International is an affiliate of a trust fund which is owned by his children or goes to his children with an individual in Cyprus acting as the trustees’ signatory.
“Abramovich seems unwilling to give the legal commitments that neither he nor his affiliates could stake a claim to that unpaid debt between Fordstam and Camberley.
“A deal which would allow the cash to be diverted would be a breach of sanctions and would be a red line for ministers.”
Abramovich wants to establish an independent charitable foundation and has approached a former United Nations executive to run it once the money has been released.
Chelsea’s current operating licence runs out on May 31, which is the deadline for registration – through the FA – for next season’s European competitions.
But the club have been accused of holding a “ludicrous position” over their relationship with Camberley, adding to the sense of conflict between the two sides.
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