Roman Abramovich insists he will not ask Chelsea to repay a £ 1.6bn loan Chelsea

Roman Abramovich has denied he wants his £ 1.6bn loan to Chelsea repaid and has said the funds will be frozen after the club has been sold.

The prospect of Todd Boehly’s consortium completing its takeover of the European champions was plunged into major doubt this week because of fears of Abramovich reneging on his promise to write off the club’s debt. Sources close to the process said that Chelsea informed the government they wanted to restructure the sale during talks last week.

However Abramovich, who was hit with sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has moved to reject those claims. The Russian oligarch’s denials will boost hopes that Chelsea, whose special operating license expires on May 31, will be under new ownership soon. Boehly’s consortium is in a five-day exclusivity period after being selected as preferred bidders last week and remains the favorite to buy Chelsea, despite late interest from Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

A spokesperson for Abramovich said: “Mr Abramovich has not asked for any loan to be repaid to him – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr Abramovich increased the price of the club last minute. As part of Mr Abramovich’s objective to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he has however encouraged each bidder throughout this process to commit investing in the club – including in the academy, women’s team, necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of Chelsea Foundation.

“Following sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since announcing that the club would be sold, the loan has also become subject to EU sanctions, requiring additional approvals. That means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by authorities. These funds are still earmarked for the foundation. The government is aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.

“To be clear, Mr Abramovich has no access or control of these funds and will not have any access or control of these funds following the sale. Despite the changing circumstances since his initial announcement he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes. ”

Abramovich, who denied that he raised his asking price by £ 500m last week, initially said that he wanted to donate net proceeds from the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine.

His spokesperson insisted that the case remained: “Mr Abramovich’s intentions in relation to gifting the proceeds from the Chelsea sale to charity have not changed. Since the initial announcement, Mr Abramovich’s team has identified senior representatives from UN bodies and large global charitable organizations who have been tasked with forming a foundation and setting out a plan for its activities.

“The lead independent expert has had conversations with government representatives presenting the structure and initial plans. Mr Abramovich has not been involved in this work and has been managed independently by experts with years of experience working in humanitarian organizations. ”

Consortiums led by Sir Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca are watching with interest in Boehly’s bid breaks down. Ratcliffe has also insisted that his offer should be taken seriously despite Raine, the US bank handling the sale, not viewing the British billionaire as part of the process at the moment.

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