Roman Abramovich may not be able to get the quick sale he wants… Chelsea’s new owners will inherit major problems

At least interested buyers know they don’t have to come up with £1.5billion just to pay off the debt owed to Roman Abramovich.

But getting everything to work is tricky.

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Roman Abramovich might not be able to move Chelsea as quickly as he wantsCredit: AFP
New owner faces several issues including delayed new stadium plans

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New owner faces several issues including delayed new stadium plansCredit: Doug Seeburg – The Sun

As Abramovich ends a 19-year reign that brought 19 major trophies at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fans fear what will happen next.

A whole generation of Blues fans have known only the Red Roma era – trophy after trophy, great players, goals and glory.

Yet it’s all too easy to forget that the whole playing field has changed since 2003.

The Russian had only to break a duopoly, a Premier League dominated by Manchester United and Arsenal, led by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

He did that and more, first making them a Big Three and then supplanting those two giants. But now it’s not just three.

There is a Big Six – even though Spurs often look like trespassers – with Manchester City and Liverpool now Chelsea’s biggest domestic and European rivals.

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Money at Leicester and Aston Villa too. And, of course, the new emerging force that is Newcastle under their Saudi overlords.

All of this helps explain why even some of the potential bidders might think deeply before even putting their money on the table.

One possible buyer is British chemicals giant Ineos. They belong to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the UK’s richest person who is worth an estimated £16billion – and who also happens to be a Chelsea fan.

Indeed, Sir Jim and his brother Bob, at the head of Ineos Football, which leads the French team in Nice and the Swiss team in Lausanne, have already been mentioned as potential owners.

When pressed on the subject two years ago, Bob suggested the ‘£2billion sticker price’ for any club in the top six was just the start.

He said: “Why do you expect to be prepared to pay £2billion when the net income for the whole of the Premier League is £5billion and all 20 clubs combined have a net profit of just £500m?

NEW FACE AT THE TOP

“It’s very difficult for a company like Ineos to justify getting into the top six and then writing checks to compete for those top honours.

“We don’t like the stadium economy – numbers don’t work for us.

“Revenues all look pretty flat. The retail side doesn’t work – it’s not rocket science to come to that conclusion.

Even if these problems can be overcome, there are other elements in the equation, some unique to the Prem, others to Chelsea.

Chief among them is the fact that any new owner would own all the assets except Chelsea’s NOM and Stamford Bridge’s PITCH.

They are owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners, an organization created by Rom’s predecessor, Ken Bates, following his bitter battle with property developers Marler Estates.

STADIUM ARCADIUM

Bates sold full ownership of the land and the rights to the ‘Chelsea’ name to the CPO, loaning the group the £10m to make the purchase. In return, the club was granted a 100-year lease, until 2097, for pepper rent.

And the new owner would also be faced with the question of the stadium itself.

Abramovich, 55, has spent millions planning a massive rebuild, which would have required the club to relocate for five seasons.

When Rom, angered that his UK Tier 1 ‘golden visa’ would not be renewed, pulled the plug in 2018, the development was expected to cost up to £1.7billion.

Now that would be well north of £2billion. It’s not that easy to hand over control of a Prem club either.

Chelsea, ironically, were one of the clubs demanding tougher new rules and a tougher test for owners and directors after the Toon takeover.

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Any new owner would have to take the Prem test – which could take a few weeks at best – before getting the green light.

Simple, it is not. And then there would be the contracts, the transfers and the demands of the players and the manager.

Perhaps Abramovich’s last message will be short: “Goodbye. And good luck.”

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