Chelsea FC suddenly finds itself in the middle of a geopolitical conflict.
The Premier League club is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who could face sanctions from the United Kingdom related to his ties to the Russian government and the invasion of Ukraine.
However, the situation is further complicated by the club’s balance sheet: Chelsea is $2 billion in debt to Abramovich.
- Labour Party parliament member Chris Bryant said “Abramovich should no longer be able to own a [soccer] club in this country.”
- Bryant criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for mistakenly claiming that Abramovich was already being sanctioned.
- Bryant has also raised the idea of seizing Abramovich’s $203.7 million home.
Should Abramovich face harsh sanctions or have his ownership of the club challenged, he could call in his loan to Chelsea, potentially bankrupting the club. He has an estimated net worth of $13.3 billion, mostly from the steel and metals industry.
A Top Earner
Despite the hefty loan, Chelsea has been among the sport’s top-earning clubs in the world. It is one of six Premier League clubs expected to earn a collective $1.3 billion in sponsorships this season — quadruple what the other 14 clubs will make combined.
Chelsea was hit hard by the pandemic, taking a $196.4 million loss for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, compared to a $49 million profit the previous year.