Abramovich denies wanting Chelsea loans repaid

Roman Abramovich has denied reports he will renege on his promise to write off a £1.6bn debt which is threatening the sale of Chelsea.

A consortium led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly is the preferred bidder for the Blues, with billionaire Sir Jim Radcliffe, the majority shareholder of chemicals giant Ineos, among those also tabling a bid.

But a statement issued on behalf of the 55-year-old, who has had his assets frozen by the government, said he has no intention of calling in the debts and insisted the money would be distributed to various charities.

“Since the initial announcement (of the sale), Mr Abramovich’s team has identified senior representatives from UN bodies and large global charitable organizations who have been tasked with forming a foundation and setting out a plan for its activities,” the statement read.

“The lead independent expert has had conversations with government representatives presenting the structure and initial plans.

“Mr Abramovich has not asked for any loan to be repaid to him – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr Abramovich increased the price of the club last minute.

“As part of Mr Abramovich’s objective to find a good custodian for Chelsea FC, he has however encouraged each bidder throughout this process to commit investing in the club – including in the academy, women’s team, necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of the Chelsea Foundation.

“Following sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since announcing that the club would be sold, the loan has also become subject to EU sanctions, requiring additional approvals.

“That means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by authorities.

“These funds are still earmarked for the foundation. The Government are aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.

“To be clear, Mr Abramovich has no access or control of these funds and will not have any access or control of these funds following the sale.

“Despite the changing circumstances since his initial announcement – he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes.”