May 9, 2022 - Sports

Chelsea's record-setting sale

Illustration of the Chelsea FC logo with the "L" replaced with a "£".

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chelsea was sold for $3.1 billion on Friday to a group led by American investor Todd Boehly, also a part owner of Los Angeles' Dodgers, Lakers and Sparks.

Why it matters: That's the most ever spent on a sports team, shattering the previous record set in 2020 when Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets for $2.4 billion. Seven teams have now joined the $2 billion-sale club.

  • ⚽️ Chelsea: $3.1B (Boehly, 2022)
  • ⚾️ Mets: $2.4B (Cohen, 2020)
  • 🏀 Nets: $2.35B (Joe Tsai, 2019)
  • 🏈 Panthers: $2.28B (David Tepper, 2018)
  • 🏀 Rockets: $2.2B (Tilman Fertitta, 2017)
  • ⚾️ Dodgers: $2B (Guggenheim Baseball Management, 2012)
  • 🏀 Clippers: $2B (Steve Ballmer, 2014)

Details: The sale goes well beyond that $3.1 billion, with Boehly's group committing an additional $2.14 billion investment in the club, including upgrading or replacing Stamford Bridge, their 145-year-old stadium.

The big picture: Exactly half of the Premier League's 20 teams are now at least minority-owned by Americans, part of a larger trend across Europe.

  • Majority (7): Chelsea (Boehly); Liverpool (John Henry); Manchester United (Glazer family); Arsenal (Stan Kroenke); Aston Villa (Wes Edens); Crystal Palace (John Textor, Josh Harris, David Blitzer); Burnley (ALK Capital)
  • Minority (3): West Ham (Albert Smith); Manchester City (Silver Lake Partners); Leeds (49ers Enterprises)

Between the lines: This process has been unorthodox, to say the least, happening under the shadow of extreme sanctions levied on soon-to-be-former owner Roman Abramovich, a "pro-Kremlin" Russian oligarch whose U.K. assets were frozen in March.

What's next: The U.K. government is expected to approve the sale by the end of May, at which point 100% of the funds will be donated to charitable causes, including to victims of the war in Ukraine.

Go deeper