London, May 5 (EFE).- Roman Abramovich denied Thursday that he is demanding repayment of the roughly 1.6 billion pounds ($2 billion) in loans he has made to Chelsea Football Club over the last 19 years, as claimed in media accounts that accuse the Russian billionaire of creating obstacles to the sale of the Premier League team.
Sanctioned by the British government over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale at the beginning of March and the New York bank handling the transaction, Raine Group, said last week that a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly had been chosen as the preferred bidder.
This week, however, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of petrochemical giant INEOS and reputedly the wealthiest person in the United Kingdom, submitted a last-minute bid for the London club.
And accounts in British media citing unnamed sources said that Abramovich, contrary to his initial promise, was seeking repayment of his loans to Chelsea as a condition of the sale.
“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,” a spokesperson for the owner said in a statement.
“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 (to) 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,” the statement said.
The spokesperson also dismissed “speculation” that Abramovich had moved away from his initial position of earmarking the proceeds of the sale for charitable efforts in Ukraine.
“Mr. Abramovich’s intentions in relation to gifting the proceeds from the Chelsea sale to charity have not changed,” the statement said, noting that the money would be frozen under UK and European Union sanctions.
“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,” the spokesperson said. EFE msg/dr