Dodgers Owner Todd Boehly Snatches Chelsea FC from Ousted Russian Oligarch

Two wealthy Angelenos are about to take one of UK’s biggest soccer franchises from a busted Russian billionaire as Ukraine invasion continues

As the daily torrent of news surrounding Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine pours in, one tangential and unexpected development has rippled out of the ongoing tragedy—two wealthy and prominent Angelenos are swiftly closing in on a coveted, nearly $5 billion deal to overtake one of the U.K.’s biggest and most reputable soccer franchises. 

Todd Boehly, a key stakeholder in the Los Angeles Dodgers, led a group of investors that has beaten back some big-name competition and won the bid to purchase the West London-based Chelsea Football Club. The decorated Premier League team went through a major crisis of ownership after sanctions that the British placed on Russia over its violent campaign led to the ouster of team owner Roman Abramovich.

Until recently, the Russian oligarch had been the majority owner of Chelsea F.C. for almost two decades. But when strict sanctions followed Vladimir Putin’s bloody gamble in Ukraine, Abramovich saw his assets frozen in England. Soon, with its owner now persona non grata, the wildly popular club was unable to even sign new players.

Abramovich had been Chelsea’s primary owner for 19 years—a boom period in which the club won five Premier League titles and exploded in popularity among footie fans. 

With Putin’s pal shunned, several individuals and groups began to close in on the lucrative club. According to Sports Illustrated, one of these groups included women’s tennis G.O.A.T. Serena Williams and Formula One legend Lewis Hamilton; Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was also eyeing a bid, according to the outlet. So was British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, the U.K. red-top The Daily Star reported. All these news items and rumors—which started to swirl early this month as harsh sanctions were placed on the oligarch in London—ended when it was confirmed on May 6 by the club’s representatives. 

“Chelsea Football Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for a new ownership group, led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjoerg Wyss, to acquire the Club,” the statement reads.

The club confirmed in its press release that £2.5 billion of the deal will go toward the purchase of shares of the club and another £1.75bn in further Chelsea F.C. investment, including infrastructure for the club’s stadium Stamford Bridge, the club’s Academy, and its women’s team, among other earmarks. 

Boehly started out at Guggenheim Partners in 2001 and ascended to become the firm’s president over the next decade. In 2015, he founded the private holding company Eldridge Industries—made up of The Hollywood Reporter, Dick Clark Productions, and Security Benefit. He owns significant stakes in the Dodgers, Lakers and Sparks. Walter, an Angeleno, too, is president of financial services firm ​​Guggenheim Partners and a partial owner of both the Dodgers and Sparks. 

This successful bid to take over Chelsea F.C. was not Boehly’s first try. In 2019, his $3 billion offer for the club was rejected by Abramovich.

SI reports that Chelsea is ranked third in the Premier League, having scored 66 points thus far this season.

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