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Saudi consortium enters race to buy Chelsea worth £3bn from Roman Abramovich

A private Saudi consortium led by Saudi Media yesterday expressed interest in buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich through Raine Group, a New York investment bank that has been hired to find a buyer.

Sources with knowledge of the situation described at least 10 serious buyers, with many more interested.

The large number of interested parties, which includes the US-Swiss consortium of Todd Boehly and Hansjorg Wyss and Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak, gives Abramovich some hope in claiming his very ambitious £3bn valuation. sterling ($4 billion).

Who are the Saudi media and their funders?

Although it is unclear who the individual backers are at this stage, Saudi Media is a fund heavily involved in financing media, advertising and sports brands across the globe.

However, their primary content offering is aimed at the Pan-Arab broadcast market. The company has offices in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia itself.

A stumbling block to their success in claiming Chelsea could be caution about accepting any offer from a ‘politically sensitive’ party.

What is the timeline for Abramovich’s decision?

The goal is for the Russian oligarch to accept an offer by March 15, but the billionaire is ready to extend it if he decides it will make the process easier.

Proceeds from the sale, we are told, will go to “victims of the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

This cautious wording in Abramovich’s statement last Wednesday raises fears that funds could flow to both sides of the war sparked by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Also in that statement, it was revealed that Abramovich would write off the £1.5 billion ($2 billion) Chelsea owe him in the form of a loan through his holding company Fordstam Ltd.

This means that the £1.5billion will not be cashed in by Abramovich after completing a sale.

How are Chelsea supporters coping with the news?

The Blues’ traveling support came under fire from their own manager Thomas Tuchel for chanting Abramovich’s name during the Premier League’s tribute to Ukraine ahead of their weekend win over Burnley.

These misguided actions show the pain among the unconditional support of losing an owner who funded 21 trophies in 19 years of his ownership.

Any new owners are highly unlikely to offer the same level of investment in the Blues, who will likely be on a more stable footing.

However, it is also an opportunity to start a new, more transparent era at the club and the Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST), the most influential group of supporters, have published a list of demands on any new owner.

They want the outstanding loan balance from Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), which stands at around £8m, cancelled.

Along with this, they are calling for greater fan involvement in the club, support for the Chelsea women’s team and following up on the recommendations of Tracey Crouch’s government report on football governance.

Although not stated in their manifesto for new ownership, the need to rebuild Stamford Bridge is a major additional issue.

Although the club has many attractive aspects, including its TV offerings and the quality of the playing squad, the need to redevelop Stamford Bridge could cost upwards of £2billion following the purchase of the West Londoners.

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