Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak said on Wednesday (March 16) his company was preparing to submit a bid by Friday to buy English soccer club Chelsea, but would want the blessing of sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich for any deal.
In an interview with Reuters, Bayrak said his AB Group Holding company was notified by the UK government – which is overseeing the Premier League club after Abramovich was targeted by British sanctions – that any bids should be filed by a Friday deadline.
Bayrak said he expected bids for Chelsea to hover around 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion), roughly half the 2.2 billion pounds he says his company was prepared to pay Abramovich in the days before the oligarch was hit by UK sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Chelsea’s market value should reflect the fact that the club recently lost sponsorship contracts, he told Reuters.
The club’s main shirt sponsor, mobile network Three, has suspended its relationship with the club.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds ($184 million) and his investment resulted in the most successful era in their history.
Some Turkish media have questioned whether Bayrak’s company has the financial firepower to buy Chelsea, saying the businessman was possibly seeking publicity.
Bayrak denied this and said he had the necessary funds to make a bid.
Abramovich’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on talks or meetings with Bayrak or his interest in Chelsea.
The press office of Britain’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport was unable to comment. While not directly involved in the sale process, the government would issue a license for the sale if it is happy with the conditions.
AB Group Holding has interests in construction, real estate and crypto currency.
World governments are seeking to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies over the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation.”
(Production Yesmin Dikmen)