Boehly gets huge boost in bid to seal Chelsea takeover by May deadline

The US billionaire has signed the terms on a £4.25billion deal to buy out Roman Abramovich. All that is left now is for Government approval and an owners and directors’ test to be carried out by the League before a new era can begin at Stamford Bridge.

Boehly is already making plans for the make-up of his new-look board, with Bruce Buck set to stay on as chairman and director Marina Granovskaia expected to remain.

Property developer Jonathan Goldstein, who is part of the American’s consortium, has decided to delay plans to join the board but will play a key role in the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. It is understood this decision was made early on in the process, with the well-known Tottenham fan wanting the club to feel comfortable with him before he takes on a more prominent position.

Boehly will have a hands-on role on the board, with Chelsea fans Daniel Finkelstein and Barbara Charone also part of a new leadership team.

Chelsea’s current special licence to continue football operations expires at the end of the month, which is why all parties are keen to see the sale completed by then.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston told Standard Sport: “There’s no doubt it’s a complex situation. The Premier League have got their owners and directors’ test and that is proceeding now. They’ve told us they’re comfortable they can do this in the time-line that they need to [meet] and then we’ll be working with Chelsea on the licence. There’s still some steps to go.”

Asked if he was confident the deal with Boehly would go through, Huddleston added: “Who knows? There were certainly quite a lot of interested parties. The Secretary of State said the clock is ticking and there is a sense of urgency.”

He said that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the Treasury, were in constant dialogue with Chelsea over the complexities of the takeover.

Buck is set to remain even in the wake of Abramovich’s ties with Chelsea being severed. Asked if the Government had issues with Chelsea’s hierarchy including close allies of the Russian oligarch, Huddleston said: “These are operational decisions for the club. The focus at the moment is [to] get the sale through.”

The Government will not sign off on the deal unless assured that no money will make its way back to Abramovich, a stipulation from the outset of talks. “It’s really important — this is part of the sanction conditions,” added Huddleston.

“The money cannot go to Roman Abramovich. It will be frozen and that’s a really important part of this process. There’s a wide understanding that the money cannot be used by Roman Abramovich.”

Abramovich is one of a host of Russian oligarchs to have had their assets frozen amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Government has also pushed to either ban competitors from Russia and Belarus or else have them sign declarations denouncing Vladimir Putin’s invasion. It led to players from both nations being banned from competing at Wimbledon.

And Huddleston said there would be no softening of that stance.

“We completely supported the decision that Wimbledon made,” he said, despite the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray raising concerns over the decision.

“While I understand there is some pushback from some players and governing bodies, I can tell you it’s got overwhelming support from the population. People understand exactly why they’ve done that.”

There were arguments it was unfair on the individual players as well as reduced the overall quality of the draw, with the likes of world No2 Daniil Medvedev and women’s No8 Aryna Sabalenka missing.

But Huddleston said: “I don’t think we can be any clearer that Russia and Belarus are pariahs on the world sporting stage… and they will continue to be so as long as Putin continues to behave in the way he has. I don’t think the issue of quality comes into that debate.”

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