Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss says he has been offered chance to buy Chelsea

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The Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has claimed he has been offered the chance to join a takeover bid for Chelsea as pressure grows on Roman Abramovich to sell the club.

Abramovich’s future at Chelsea is in doubt after he announced plans to relinquish the running of the club and the Labour MP Chris Bryant claimed that the Russian was hastily selling UK properties to avoid potential financial sanctions.

Abramovich’s decision to transfer the stewardship and care of Chelsea to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation came after a call in parliament for him to face sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine. The move has increased the sense that the 55-year-old, who has vehemently disputed reports suggesting his alleged closeness to Vladimir Putin and Russia or that he has done anything to merit being sanctioned, could be tempted to sell.

Interested parties could look to move swiftly in case Abramovich is sanctioned by the UK government, at which point it is unlikely a sale would be permitted. Chelsea have maintained that they are not for sale, but bids could reach Abramovich this week and the sense of uncertainty has grown after Wyss said he had been asked to join a consortium of “six or seven investors” looking to buy the club.

There is no suggestion that Abramovich is about to call in the £1.5bn worth of loans he has given Chelsea since buying them in 2003. However Wyss said that Abramovich wanted a sale, though the 86-year-old added that the current asking price was too high.

Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss billionaire.
Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss billionaire. Photograph: The Wyss Foundation

“Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,” Wyss told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich. I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2bn. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price.”

Wyss, worth a reported £4.3bn, said that he would not act alone and Blick reported that his consortium also comprised three American businessman for now. “I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners,” he said. “But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.”

Chelsea declined to comment on Wyss’s claims. Speculation is mounting that Abramovich’s time at Chelsea could be drawing to a close. The US businessman Todd Boehly and the Ineos chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, have reportedly tried to buy the club in the past.

'You have to stop!': Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel tells media to stop asking about Ukraine – video
‘You have to stop!’: Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel tells media to stop asking about Ukraine – video

Abramovich’s plan to transfer the stewardship of Chelsea to the foundation’s trustees has run into obstacles. Some trustees have concerns over Abramovich’s plan and the Charity Commission has contacted the foundation for more information after a serious incident report was reported to the regulatory body. The trustees are likely to want an impenetrable indemnity policy in place if they are to go ahead with the proposed change to the club’s structure. That would ensure they are not liable for any financial ramifications on their watch.

Abramovich’s spokesperson was approached for comment on the claim he was seeking to sell some of his properties.

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