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Roman Abramovich and UK government still at odds over Chelsea takeover and £1.6bn loan

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Reports that “common ground” had been found between lawyers for Russian billionaire and government have been described as premature as Premier League ready to give go ahead to Todd Boehly group’s takeover

The UK government and Roman Abramovich are yet to find a resolution that would complete the sale of Chelsea Football Club despite reports that the Russian billionaire’s team had found a legal solution to the outstanding issue of his £1.6bn loan to the club.

According to The Mirror, negotiations continue but a senior government source has described a report from the Press Association that both sides have found “common ground” around how to handle the loan as “premature.”

Earlier this week a government source raised concers that Abramovich could derail the takeover because of an impasse around how the £4.25billion deal to sell the club to a group led by US businessman Todd Boehly has been structured. Westminster sources have claimed that Abramovich wants the £1.6bn he has loaned the club since buying it in 2003 sent to a company registered in Jersey called Camberley International Investments. That has been denied by Abramovich’s team.

Abramovich was placed on the sanctions list on March 10, meaning the club could only operate within the conditions of a special licence. That must be amended by a deadline of May 31 to allow a sale to proceed but the government must first receive sufficient guarantees around the sale.

Since the outset the government has stressed that its primary concern would be ensuring that Abramovich does not stand to make any financial gain from the deal to hand over the club. The 55-year-old’s team have repeatedly said that he does not want the loan to be repaid and any profits will go to a foundation that will assist victims of the war in Ukraine.

Last week the Charity Commission said that no application to establish a foundation had been received, although former UNICEF chief Mike Penrose has said that he has been asked to set up the charity. “‘The only thing between this becoming a reality is politics,” he said earlier this week, adding that a scoping document sent to government stated that the no one associated with the club will “ever receive financial benefit.”

The Premier League is unlikely to make any objections around the Boehly group taking over and their due diligence began well before the consortium signed a purchase agreement on May 7.

The takeover has already proved to be an unwanted distraction to the players and head coach Thomas Tuchel. The German said earlier this month that it has impacted their form. “It has for sure, I don’t think there’s any sense in hiding from the fact that it is a distraction,” he said. “It’s a question of to which level we can still live up to even if we are distracted, worried or disadvantaged by it.

“We’re the only club at the moment who suffers like this and maybe the first club who ever did this. It’s a situation that’s unique and quite challenging. Of course, everyone wants it to be clarified. These are steps in the right direction. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time because we need the positive energy and the competitive atmosphere as a club. That’s why it’s very important that things progress.”

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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