Billionaire Roman Abramovich Pumps $324 million Into Chelsea Despite Losing Love For London
Billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich has plunged a massive $324 million (£247 million) into Chelsea FC despite reportedly having not attended a game for over two years.
New accounts for the west London soccer giants released yesterday evening show that Chelsea is still dependent on the controversial oligarch’s fortune to compete at the top of the English Premier League.
In accounts for the year ending June 30, 2019, Chelsea reported losses before tax of $126 million (£96 million) against profits of $78 million (£60 million) the previous year.
Although turnover increased from $588 million (£448 million) to $593 million (£452 million) Chelsea posted a $10 million (£7.3 million) fall in match-day income and a $5 million (£3.9 million) reduction in broadcasting income. The club attributed the fall in revenue to only qualifying for the Europa League, and not the Champions League, the topflight of European football.
Despite having recently operated under a transfer ban, Chelsea has intangible assets of $632 million (£482 million), primarily a result of player acquisitions, including U.S. star Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund and Brazilian Jorginho from Napoli. While their current liabilities have likewise shot up to $455 million (£347 million), an increase of $262 million (£200 million) with amounts now owed (including, but not exclusively) to other clubs standing at $299 million (£228 million).
The club also announced that the sacking of former manager Antonio Conte cost the club a massive $35 million (£26.6 million) described by the club as “changes in respect of the men’s team management and coaching staff, together with associated legal costs.”
Antonio Conte, now manager of Inter Milan, spent two years at Chelsea after joining in 2016. He won the Premier League and the FA Cup but was sacked after missing out on Champions League qualification and finishing fifth.
Speculation that Roman Abramovich planned to sell Chelsea has dominated the sports page of British newspapers for the last year. Fellow billionaire Jim Ratcliffe emerged as the most likely buyer last summer, but a firm offer failed to materialize.
While last month the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. financier Todd Boehly, who reportedly co-owns the L.A. Dodgers baseball team, had a bid for Chelsea rejected by Abramovich.
Kieran Maguire, from the University of Liverpool, an expert on football accountancy, describes Abramovich’s current relationship with Chelsea as “a strange one,” telling Forbes that clearly from the accounts released today “the club itself is not generating sufficient revenues” to cover the money needed for new players.
Maguire adds, “He’s fallen out of love with London because he had some sort of feud with Boris Johnson. And as a consequence, he’s taken up Israeli citizenship, and doesn’t attend matches. But in terms of his financial support [for Chelsea]—it’s never been greater.”
On why Chelsea has yet to find a buyer, Maguire says that no one wants to be “the mug that pays the £3 billion that’s being asked.” Adding that the £3 billion ($3.94 billion) valuation comes from the news last November that the $510 million (£389 million) investment from U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake, pushed the value of City Football Group (CFG) (the parent company of Premier League champions Manchester City) to $4.8 billion (£3.73 billion).
Maguire adds that the City deal “effectively reset the valuations of all clubs. “I think in the Premier League, at the elite level, [clubs] are looking for more money. And [three billion] “is a lot of money for an investment that’s not to make any profit.”
Abramovich built a $12.4 billion fortune acquiring steel, nickel and natural gas assets in post-Soviet Russia. Abramovich was granted Israeli citizenship in May 2018 after facing delays in renewing his U.K. investor visa following tensions between London and the Kremlin.