Chelsea Football Club is indeed for sale.
Embattled billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who recently stepped away from the club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is actively looking for a buyer. Boutique investment bank Raine Group, which has worked with Abramovich in the past, is helping in the process, according to multiple people familiar with the plans.
Abramovich confirmed the sale plans in a statement on the club’s website.
Chelsea is one of the most valuable soccer clubs in the world—Sportico recently valued the team at $3.35 billion, fourth-highest in England—and an auction could fetch one of the highest amounts ever paid for a sports franchise. The NFL’s Denver Broncos, worth $3.8 billion, are also on the market.
Representatives for the team and Raine declined to comment.
Among those interested is notable American sports investor Todd Boehly, who owns parts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers, according to someone familiar with the talks. Boehly is working with Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who told a local newspaper that he was asked to join a consortium of “six or seven investors.”
Boehly expressed interest in Chelsea in the past. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Abramovich has turned down offers of at least $3 billion in the past, but circumstances have changed dramatically in the past week. Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has set off a cascading series of international admonishments and sanctions, which are dramatically affecting Russian businesses and oligarchs like the 55-year-old Abramovich, who made much of his money in industries like steel and oil.
Last week Abramovich said he would step away from the club, ceding stewardship (but not ownership) to its foundation. The head of the British parliament’s standards committee also recently told Commons that Abramovich was quickly selling assets in anticipation of sanctions.
Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003 for around $190 million. He is worth $12.5 billion, making him the 142nd richest person in the world, according to Forbes. He has repeatedly denied accusations that he and Putin are close, or that his businesses merit sanctions.
Chelsea, which plays in London, won its second Champions League title last year. The club has won five EPL titles since the league took its current shape in 1992.
(This article has been updated in the second and third paragraphs to include Abramovich’s statement on the sale plans, and in the 10th paragraph with information on Abramovich’s citizenship status.)