Exclusive: Final hurdle in Chelsea takeover cleared after Portugal gives deal 'green light'

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Todd Boehly at Stamford Bridge - PA
Todd Boehly at Stamford Bridge - PA

The final hurdle in Todd Boehly's Chelsea takeover has been cleared after Portugal and Europe confirmed they had given the deal their "green light".

Lisbon Government officials disclosed to Telegraph Sport that final approval had been issued by the country where Roman Abramovich obtained a passport last year.

"Portugal gave authorisation, this Wednesday night, to the sale of Chelsea Football Club," a statement said. "The two responsible national authorities - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance - have given a green light to the request received on behalf of Roman Abramovich for a humanitarian derogation, allowing the English club to be transacted."

The statement means a fraught two-month sale saga is finally over and the 19-year, trophy-laden Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge is now at an end. Approval for the sale had been required in Portugal as he had obtained citizenship there last year. Europe also needed to wave through the deal, having followed the UK in sanctioning him over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Lisbon officials added in their statement: "The Portuguese authorisation follows the guarantee given by the British authorities that the proceeds from the sale will be used for humanitarian purposes, not directly or indirectly benefiting the owner of the club, who is on the European Union sanctions list. The national position has the agreement of the European Commission."

Proceeds from the initial £2.5billion sale are expected to start changing hands almost immediately as ministers now draw up a licence amendment which means Chelsea can be sold as a frozen asset.

With the Boehly-led takeover now beginning in earnest, Telegraph Sport had previously revealed how Thomas Tuchel is now expected to have around £200m at his disposal in the transfer market. Tuchel, meanwhile, has made it clear that Chelsea will have to act quickly and decisively once the club are able to trade normally under their new ownership. Boehly, who spoke to the German and the squad after the final-day victory over Watford, is determined to do just that.

Funds from the sale will initially be paid into an escrow account while Government seeks assurances about the foundations for war victims that is being set up by former Unicef UK chief executive Mike Penrose.

He told Telegraph Sport on Wednesday that the eventual donation could save "millions of lives". "We are coming up with a plan that will really revolutionise humanitarian aid,"  he said, having returned this week from a scoping mission to Ukraine.

The UK Government had finally agreed on the sale at 11pm on Tuesday. “We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war," ministers confirmed.

Eyebrows raised as Chelsea announce 'best reputation' award on same day as Abramovich sale

by Tom Morgan

Chelsea have raised eyebrows by announcing a “best reputation” award on the same day that their internationally-sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich finally completed his sale of the club.

The World Sports Organisation handed the Stamford Bridge club the gong as it recognises "clubs and players" who are "promoting a better world", Chelsea said. The awards reflect feats in 2021, and were likely to have been decided prior to Abramovich being punished by the UK and Europe over his alleged links to Vladimir Putin.

In the later years of the Abramovich era, the club had invested heavily in community causes, most notably fighting anti-Semitism, and handing over facilities during the pandemic. Director Marina Granovskaia, who has been a key broker in the sale of the club to the Todd Boehly-led consortium, accepted the award from World Sport Organisation president Thomas Di Gianantonio.

Chelsea announced the award in a statement on the same morning that Portugal confirmed the European Commission had ratified the £4.25bn takeover. The club was named the "Football Club with the Best Reputation 2021" after receiving 37 per cent of the votes in that category. "The independent, non-profit World Sport Organisation encourages global co-operation to promote the positive influence that professional sport and, in particular, those who compete in it, can have on humanity," Chelsea added.

"As part of that goal, they hold the annual Football Reputation Awards to recognise the clubs and players who have led the way, setting an example by promoting a better world, and raise awareness of the potential for sport to influence positive change in society."

Midfielder N’Golo Kante was also "the overwhelming winner of the Football Player with the Best Reputation 2021" award, the club added.

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