Roman Abramovich

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Report: Chelsea up for sale at $2.5 billion

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According to a report from the Sunday Times, Chelsea are up for sale.

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With billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich currently unable to get a work visa for the UK as Anglo-Russian relations soured over the summer due to the ongoing political situation, it is believed he is keen to sell up after owning Chelsea for 15 years.

Per the report, bank Raine Group are said to be looking at offers for the Blues.

Abramovich paid $180 million for Chelsea back in 2003 and it is estimated he has spent over $1.4 billion with Chelsea winning 15 trophies under his stewardship. The Sunday Times also say that Silver Lake Partners, an American private equity firm, have had a bid rejected for minority ownership in Chelsea.

A contrasting report from the Guardian claims that Chelsea aren’t for sale but there is no surprise about any noises that Abramovich wants out.

Many suggest he feels extremely hard done by to have been wrapped up in the political situation between the UK and Russia and feels he is being unfairly punished despite pouring billions of dollars into the UK economy.

It was reported that Sir Jim Ratcliffe failed with a $2.5 billion bid for Chelsea back in June as Abramovich’s plans to totally redevelop Stamford Bridge were put on hold amid his visa issues

With news earlier this week that Liverpool turned down a bid of over $2.5 billion from the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, it is clear that Premier League clubs, especially those around the top four, remain a hot commodity.

Abramovich won’t struggle to find a buyer and $2.5 billion seems a decent price considering Manchester United’s most recent valuation is around $4.3 billion.

However, Chelsea may struggle to find an owner as dedicated to success over time as Abramovich has been. And that’s the worrying thing for Blues fans amid these contrasting reports.

Report: Abramovich turns down $2.6 billion bid for Chelsea

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Roman Abramovich isn’t willing to sell Chelsea despite his recent visa issues in the United Kingdom.

The Daily Mail recently reported that UK businessman Jim Ratcliffe had placed a $2.6 billion bid for the Stamford Bridge club, however, Abramovich turned down the bid.

Abramovich has been the owner of Chelsea since 2003, and with a large infusion of money has helped the Premier League side become a regular power in English and European football over the years.

The Russian’s issues pertaining to his visa recently made Abramovich decide to cancel his club’s stadium renovations at Stamford Bridge, which had been planned for some time.

Significant political tension between the UK and Russia is believed to be the cause of Abramovich’s visa issues.

Chelsea announce stadium plans on hold

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Chelsea have announced their $1.3 billion plans to rebuild Stamford Bridge are on hold due to “the current unfavourable investment climate.” 

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The west London club have ambitions to totally demolish their home stadium and rebuild a 60,000 capacity venue on the same site, and this announcement comes at a strange time after Hammersmith & Fulham borough council only approved the plans last year.

There are reports that due to Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich recently being turned down for a new UK visa (and instead applying for Israeli citizenship) there could be tougher financial times coming up for the five-time Premier League champions.

In a statement on Chelsea’s website, the club confirmed the reason behind the decision to cancel their plans.

“Chelsea Football Club announces today that it has put its new stadium project on hold. No further pre-construction design and planning work will occur. The club does not have a time frame set for reconsideration of its decision. The decision was made due to the current unfavourable investment climate.”

Intriguing times ahead for the Blues not only on the pitch, as Antonio Conte edges nearer to the exit door and rumors regarding Maurizio Sarri coming in as their new manager persist.

First things first, Chelsea’s fans will want to hear more from Abramovich and his future plans for the club after his issues with acquiring a new UK visa are reportedly linked to the diplomatic situation regarding the UK and Russia.

Conte remains bullish, won’t resign as Chelsea boss

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Chelsea are more than 48 hours removed from their latest embarrassment, a 4-1 defeat to Watford on Monday, and Antonio Conte is still the club’s manager.

[ MORE: Forecasting the Premier League’s top-four race ]

That might lead outsiders to believe that Conte has been given a stay of execution, as Chelsea’s temperamental and oft-meddlesome owner, Roman Abramovich, hasn’t yet fired another manager (less than nine months after lifting the Premier League trophy). Thus, Conte will be in charge of the Blues when they host West Bromwich Albion on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com)… unless, of course, Conte were to resign between now and then.

That, though, according to the Guardian, isn’t going to happen, as Conte “has no intention” of stepping aside. The Italian is desperate to save his job, which he was previously widely expected to walk away from in the summer, that he’s granted his players’ request for additional time off this week in an attempt to recover from an exhaustive period which saw Chelsea play nine games (across three domestic competitions) during the 31 days of January. The defeat to Watford was the first time since Nov. 18 that they had more than three days between games.

[ MORE: Finally fit, Spurs ready for season-defining month ]

While reports have surfaced that Abramovich has reached out to former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique with an eye toward the Spaniard succeeded Conte at Stamford Bridge, maintaining order and continuity is said to be the top priority, as Chelsea continue to chase a top-four finish in the PL, the FA Cup (fifth round vs. Hull City) and a deep run in the Champions League (round of 16 vs. Barcelona).

For what it’s worth, Conte still appears to have the support of Chelsea’s most senior figures, as summed up best by captain Gary Cahillquotes from the Guardian:

“The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job. This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while. Performance-wise at Watford I didn’t recognize us or myself. It was abysmal. We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club: it’s about staying calm. But it hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.”

Conte shakes off reports of rift with the Chelsea board

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is keeping his head down amid reports that there is a break in relations with Blues leadership.

The Italian has highlighted his relationship with the Chelsea players as his solace when things get tough. “I would be very happy to continue to work with my players,” Conte said when asked about a potential issue with the higher-ups.

“I saw a bit the history of this club in the past and it was the same also for the other coaches, and I don’t see difference between me and other coaches that managed this situation. My task is to continue to work very hard for this club and have great respect first of all for my job and for my players, for our fans.”

Conte, who sees Chelsea sitting third in the Premier League table with a three-point gap in either direction, has seen its prospects for a trophy this season diminish after a loss to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semifinals. Conte is aware that owner Roman Abramovich can have an itchy trigger finger when silverware is not secured.

“My only worry is to work, only to work very hard,” Conte said. “For sure if you look at the stats you can see that in 14 years 10 managers were sacked in this club. The stats are this, but at the same time when you are sure about your work and that you are doing everything to improve this club and to work with the players, I am very relaxed, calm and I don’t have this type of worry.”

The Premier League title seems to be all wrapped up with Manchester City well on top, while the Blues remain in the Champions League and FA Cup. They have a knockout round matchup with Barcelona with the two legs scheduled for late February and early March. The Blues are also drawn against fellow Premier League side Newcastle in the 4th Round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

“I’m repeating always the same thing – I’m the coach,” Conte said ahead of the Newcastle match. “My task is to try to do the best for this club, to try to improve my players for this club.”

The Italian said that he hopes new players are brought in, but he has no control over that matter. “I’m happy to try every day to put all myself for this job. I would be very happy if there are some new players.”