Kieran Maguire, a football finance expert, has suggested that Chelsea could face going out of business if the government sanctions the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, as several suitors are reportedly considering a takeover bid.
Maguire believes Chelsea could face a crisis as there have been increasing calls for ministers to seize or freeze Abramovich’s UK-based assets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week, with the billionaire not included in the first wave of sanctions.
Recall that Labour MP Chris Bryant used parliamentary privilege to question Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea.
This followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a military invasion of Ukraine a few days ago.
It is now understood that potential suitors – including some based in the US – have begun drawing up takeover bids amid the uncertainty.
“If he [Roman Abramovich] feels he is being made a scapegoat for the activities of Putin, then the worst-case scenario is he tries to call in the loan,” Maguire told The Times.
“Then we have got a crisis. He and Putin could argue that it is the British government that has destroyed Chelsea Football Club.”
However, Dr Rob Wilson, a finance lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, has similar concerns, saying: “If the government does seize the assets, in which case they seize Chelsea, that is probably for him a bit of a final straw.
“He would likely try to walk away from the club . . . which would create a problem for Chelsea because it would have to be sold or go out of business. Who would buy Chelsea with a £2billion loan [to repay]?”