ROMAN ABRAMOVICH is demanding Chelsea’s new owners commit to not copying the Glazer Manchester United model.
As part of the detailed discussions with the “preferred bidder” consortium headed by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, Abramovich is insisting on stringent conditions.
Todd Boehly looks set to take over as Chelsea owner but faces fresh strict rulesCredit: AFP
The Glazers are incredibly unpopular at Old Trafford for the way they have run Manchester UnitedCredit: PA
The Russian’s appointed brokers, the US-based Raine Group, have told Boehly that he must promise not to pay out dividends or take any management fees for a decade after the completion of the deal.
That would prevent Boehly from echoing the approach of the Glazers since their 2005 United takeover – and which has sparked consistent and growing protests from fans.
Boehly, backed by US venture capital investors Clearlake, is closing in on his £4billion takeover despite the late bid by Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos group.
But Boehly will have to agree to Abramovich’s conditions before final approval – including limits on future debt levels and a commitment to spending £1bn on Stamford Bridge, the academy and Chelsea’s highly-successful women’s team.
United have been saddled with debt since the £709m Glazer takeover, while fans have remained furious at a series of dividend payments – adding up to hundreds of millions of pounds – that have benefited the Florida-based family.
The Glazers have also cashed in on share sales – the club is listed on the New York Stock Exchange – although club spokesmen point to the astonishing amounts spent on players to insist the on-field aspect has never been compromised.
Abramovich insisted on Thursday that he is NOT demanding the return of the £1.6bn he has loaned the club over the past 19 years before greenlighting the disposal of his stake.
The Russian, though, does seem to be playing hardball in terms of the undertakings from his potential successor – although how any such promises could be enforced is less clear.
Boehly’s group are set to complete the £4bn takeover of Chelsea in the coming weeks once talks are completed and they get the green light from the Premier League and UK Government.
Boehly’s team were told last week they had been granted a “period of exclusivity” to discuss the final terms and conditions of a takeover package.
The LA Dodgers co-owner is leading the bid with support from Hansjorg Wyss.
Private equity firm Clearlake Capital would hold roughly 60 per cent of the Chelsea shares.
But voting rights would be split evenly between Clearlake and Boehly.