Chelsea's billionaire Russian owner is reportedly looking to quickly sell the club to avoid financial sanctions
- The UK government is sanctioning businesses and oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin.
ChelseaFC owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly now looking to sell the London club.
Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Russian owner of English Premier League team Chelsea FC, is looking to rapidly sell the football club to avoid financial sanctions following
That's according to Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, who told Swiss newspaper Blick that he and three others have been approached to buy the club, which is valued at around $2.1 billion.
"Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly," said the 86-year-old.
"I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich."
Wyss, the founder of medical device manufacturer Synthes USA, admitted he was interested in purchasing the London club as part of a consortium, but that Abramovich's current asking price is too high.
"I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much," he said. "You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion ($2.7 billion). But Chelsea has no money."
"As of today, we don't know the exact selling price."
Abramovich's reported efforts to sell Chelsea come after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson froze the assets of three billionaires with close links to Vladimir Putin as part of the nation's response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Abramovich has not yet been sanctioned, but is one of Russia's richest people and is believed to be close to President Putin.
He served as governor of the Chukotka region of eastern Russia between 2000 and 2008 under Putin. He was also among those to recommend to former Russia president Boris Yeltsin that Putin would be a suitable successor, according to reporter Oli Carpenter.
On Saturday, Abramovich released a statement announcing that he was handing control of Chelsea to the foundation trustees in order to protect the club.
"I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the Club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities," he wrote.
"I have always taken decisions with the Club's best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values."
It us understood, however, that stepping away from daily control at Stamford Bridge would not protect Abramovich from any potential sanctions.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and head of the parliamentary standards committee, said Tuesday that the UK government was moving too slowly on imposing sanctions on Abramovich and that the delay will allow him time to offload his UK assets before they he faces any financial punishments.
"I think [Abramovich] is terrified of being sanctioned, which is why he's already going to sell his home tomorrow, and sell another flat as well," Bryant told the Commons.
"My anxiety is that we're taking too long about these things."
Chelsea FC declined to comment.
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