Chelsea have responded to media speculation suggesting current owner Roman Abramovich is attempting to go back on his pledge to write off the £1.6bn debt he is owed, claiming this is not the case.
Abramovich is apparently claiming sanctions imposed on him by the United Kingdom government mean he is unable to write off the debt.
The oligarch put the Blues up for sale when Russia invaded Ukraine, military action which has resulted in the deaths of at least 46,000 people. Abramovich initially promised to send funds from the sale towards charitable organisations.
In a statement released on Thursday, a spokesperson for Abramovich wrote: "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.
"Secondly, 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 are aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.
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"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."
The consortium led by Todd Boehly are expected to become Chelsea's new owners and they believe the sale will go through fairly shortly.