London, Aug 26 (IANS) Chelsea FC’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich is looking to sell the London-based football club for a price of over two billion pounds, according to reports in the UK press on Sunday.
The story comes in the wake of Abramovich’s recent dispute with the UK government over his visa status and a subsequent decision to halt plans to develop the club’s Stamford Bridge ground into a 60,000 capacity stadium at a projected cost of 500 million pounds, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Russian only recently obtained Israeli citizenship after having his status in the UK questioned.
If Abramovich goes ahead with the sale, it would make Chelsea the most expensive club in history at a price almost three times of the 790 million pounds the Glazier family paid to purchase Manchester United in 2006.
It would also constitute a significant profit on the 140 million pounds that Abramovich paid to buy the club in 2003, leading to a 15 year period which has seen Chelsea going from being almost rags, to become one of the economic powerhouses of the game, winning the English Premier League five times, the Champions League and five FA Cups.
The Sunday Times reports that the merchant bank ‘The Raine Group’ has been hired to help with the sale and to search for possible buyers in China, the US and the Middle East.
Abramovich was reported to have rejected an offer of around 2 billion euros for the club from Sir John Ratcliffe (reportedly the UK’s richest man) earlier this year.