86-year-old Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has revealed that he has been approached to lodge a bid for Chelsea FC, with owner Roman Abramovich's stance on selling believed to have shifted.
While it had previously been stated that the club was not for sale, it was revealed on Tuesday that Abramovich may now be open to parting with Chelsea with the threat of sanctions from the UK government looming following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week. The Russian-Israeli is alleged to have close ties with Moscow and Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich had attempted to distance himself from the football club by handing over the stewardship to its charitable foundation, although that is believed to have caught trustees by surprise and left several considering their position.
Speaking in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick, US-based Wyss revealed that he has been contacted about buying Chelsea - alongside three others - and said Ambramovich was 'panicking' and trying to shift his asset 'quickly'.
“Like all other oligarchs, he is in a panic," he said. "Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly. 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."
Wyss added that he would not be willing to purchase Chelsea alone, and would rather do so as part of a consortium.
“As of today, we don't know the exact selling price," he continued. "I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. 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 [it would be] with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.”
Based in Wyoming, Wyss is worth £4.36bn and is the founder and former chairman of medical device manufacturer Synthes USA. The businessman is now a donor to politically liberal and environmental causes in the US.
The Telegraph reports that Abramovich wants to field bids by the end of this week, with an offer anticipated from at least one of the investors to have been sounded out. In the past Abramovich has rejected bids of £2.2bn for the Stamford Bridge side, with a similar proposal certain to cover the club's £1.51bn debt to him.
90min understands British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also among those interested, with the financier and industrialist exploring the possibility of buying a leading English football club.
A major stumbling block is the threat of sanctions from the UK government this week because Abramovich might not be able to trade depending on what measures are imposed.