Chelsea takeover: Egyptian billionaire Loutfy Mansour ‘is not pursuing a bid’ to buy the club

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Egyptian billionaire Loutfy Mansour has become the latest businessman to distance themselves from buying Chelsea Football Club as Roman Abramovich’s attempts to sell continues.

Mansour has joined British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe – the wealthiest man in the UK – in distancing himself from the club as Abramovich looks to cash-in on the Premier League giants.

Mansour was being linked with a potential takeover of Chelsea but those links have now been squashed after a spokesperson for the Egyptian investor told The Guardian: ‘In light of the recent media speculation, we want to make it clear that we are not pursuing a bid for Chelsea Football Club at this time.’

Mr Mansour, 33, is the Egyptian chief executive of Man Capital, the investment arm of his family’s business and has a season ticket at Stamford Bridge.

It’s another blow for Abramovich, who revealed on Wednesday that he would sell Chelsea, 19 years after buying the Premier League team, amid calls in Britain for sanctions against him and other oligarchs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As it stands, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly currently lead the race to buy the west London club.

Wyss and Boehly are preparing to table a bid after forming a consortium aiming to buy the club, but the group are not willing to meet Abramovich’s £3bn asking price.

Abramovich rejected an offer of £2.2bn from Boehly three years ago, but the Russian was not an active seller at that time and he may now have to accept an even lower figure due to the lack of alternative bidders, and the on-going threat of Government sanctions.

Roman Abramovich revealed on Wednesday that he is looking to sell Chelsea

Egyptian billionaire Loutfy Mansour (left) has distanced himself from buying Chelsea Football Club from Roman Abramovich (right)

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries repeated the call for Abramovich to be sanctioned in Parliament on Thursday, but this process could take several weeks as the National Crime Agency are struggling to prove his financial connection to the Russian government and fears of legal action.

The UK Government are nevertheless preparing legislation that would give them powers to seize British property owned by Russian oligarchs on the sanction list without paying them compensation, although the Premier League have received reassurances that such a move would include the scope for certain properties and businesses to be exempt. 

Chelsea are likely to feature on this exemption list as the government have no desire to punish the club, while some sources are claiming that they are giving Abramovich time to sell before he is sanctioned.

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On Thursday night, the Government announced they have frozen the assets of Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek oligarch who was an investor in Everton until the club cut ties with him on Wednesday. Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has left the board of USM Holdings, the company where Usmanov was his partner.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is not interested in buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is not interested in buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich

Abramovich’s desperation to sell was made evident by his extraordinary public statement on Wednesday evening and apparent willingness to write off over £1.5bn of loans to the club, he remains intent on recouping those funds through the sale price. 

The 55-year-old may have to lower his valuation considerably however, as he has not been inundated with offers of interest from potential buyers since he instructed the Raine Group to market the club earlier this week.

Wyss and Boehly are the only publicly known bidders at this stage, with Ineos tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe ruling himself out on Thursday despite having previously made a bid, and investment experts told Sportsmail that there are only a handful of individuals in the world able access the billions needed in the time-frame required. 

A private-equity funded corporate buy-out has been ruled out due to a lack of time, leaving Abramovich’s options limited. 

Abramovich is looking to sell the Premier League club amid calls to sanction him following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Abramovich is looking to sell the Premier League club amid calls to sanction him following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Abramovich became owner at Stamford Bridge in 2003 and his tenure is set to end soon

Abramovich became owner at Stamford Bridge in 2003 and his tenure is set to end soon

Chelsea have won every trophy available under Abramovich, including the Club World Cup

Chelsea have won every trophy available under Abramovich, including the Club World Cup

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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters on Thursday welcomed Abramovich’s decision to sell and claimed that should he accept an offer the prospective buyer could theoretically pass the infamous owners and directors’ test in a couple of weeks.

‘I think it’s the right decision,’ Masters said at the Financial Times Business of Sport summit. ‘The situation has escalated incredibly quickly over the last seven days and he’s come to the right conclusion that it is unsustainable.

‘I think the quickest one (owners and directors test) we’ve ever done is 10 days. That’s not to say that record can’t be beaten. But, normally, it would take a number of weeks, and it all depends on the complexity of the deal and the number of potential owners. So, provided that the information is easily digestible, easily understandable, gives us all the right answers, it could be done relatively quickly.’

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Abramovich – who bought the club from Ken Bates for £140million in 2003 – has overseen a trophy-laden period which has included two Champions League titles, five Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two Europa League titles, and the Club World Cup. 

Hansjorg Wyss (above) is interested in buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich

The Swiss billionaire could team up with LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly to buy Chelsea

Hansjorg Wyss (left) is interested in buying Chelsea from Abramovich, while could team up with LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly (right) to buy the west London club

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Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley, who bought into her club with an 80 per cent stake from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, questioned why Abramovich was being forced into a sale.

‘I am sad someone will have a club taken away from them because of a link they may have with someone,’ she told the FT summit. ‘I don’t think that is particularly fair.’

Abramovich is also facing questions about his pledge to donate the ‘net proceeds’ from the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine after the Charity Commission said on Thursday that it had not yet received any registration application for a new charity.

Chelsea sources told Sportsmail that net proceeds would mean everything other than sale costs such as stamp duty and legal fees, which would amount to tens of millions of pounds rather than the £1.5bn outstanding loans, but the club will have no involvement in the running of the charity and ultimately it will be a matter for Abramovich.

Premier League chief executive thinks it is right that Abramovich is selling Chelsea

Premier League chief executive thinks it is right that Abramovich is selling Chelsea

However, Newcastle stakeholder Amanda Staveley thinks it's sad that he is selling Chelsea

However, Newcastle stakeholder Amanda Staveley thinks it’s sad that he is selling Chelsea

Damian Hinds, the security minister, said it was not clear what Abramovich meant by his pledge to donate money from the sale, while others have questioned whether the funds would go to Ukrainians or Russians, which was not addressed in his statement.

‘You can define net proceeds in different ways, as any corporate financier would tell you,’ Hinds said.

Chelsea trustees expect the original plan to hand over the stewardship of the club to their charitable foundation to be abandoned.

UK security minister Damian Hinds has questioned how Abramovich will spend the proceeds of the sale

UK security minister Damian Hinds has questioned how Abramovich will spend the proceeds of the sale

Trustees, who showed huge reluctance towards the plan anyway, remain on stand-by if the proposed sale collapses, but the stewardship plan has now been described as being ‘dead in the water’ in its current format.

Even if Chelsea planned to continue with handing over stewardship of the club to the six trustees, it has emerged that the Charities Commission would likely prevent the proposals from being actioned.

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On Tuesday, Sportsmail revealed trustees would have insisted on an indemnity policy before agreeing to Abramovich’s original plans, given the sheer responsibility of playing such a key role within a business that turned over £434.8million for the previous financial year.

Chelsea had instructed lawyers to start building the legal framework to facilitate Abramovich’s stewardship recommendation – but it is clear now that the idea is largely unworkable.

The trustees include: Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, John Devine, a partner at the law firm Muckle LLP, club director of finance Paul Ramos, women’s head coach Emma Hayes, executive director of anti-discrimination group Fare, Piara Powar, and the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson. At least two of those were almost certain to drop out.

Financial analyst John Purcell told Sportsmail last night that any sale will likely lead to a drop in transfer spending at Chelsea, which hit £2.1bn in the 19 years of Abramovich’s reign.

Chelsea managed to focus on the pitch to beat Luton in the FA Cup on Wednesday evening

Chelsea managed to focus on the pitch to beat Luton in the FA Cup on Wednesday evening

‘I think the business model will change,’ said Purcell. ‘I don’t think the largesse that Chelsea have displayed since Abramovich took over is going to be repeated. He transformed the Premier League and English football – not necessarily for the better. Everyone else has tried to compete, it’s attracted big money, it’s generated big money, it’s a very rich league. But the losses are getting bigger and bigger.

‘A buyer that maintains the level of investment and spending of Abramovich is going to be very rare.

‘In their most recent accounts, Chelsea posted an economic loss of £207million – the biggest we’ve ever seen in an English club.

‘So whatever the purchase price, the new owners will then have to fund it on an ongoing basis. In the current climate, are they going to do it Abramovich levels? Highly unlikely.’ 

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