(Reuters) – Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich on Thursday denied media reports that he has asked for his loan to Chelsea football club to be repaid, saying that the suggestions are “entirely false”.
Premier League Chelsea were put up for sale by Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and before sanctions were imposed on him by the British government.
A consortium led by LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly has been in negotiations to buy the club for $3 billion while British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is not giving up on a bid despite apparent rejection from the U.S. bank handling the sale.
The loan Abramovich made to Chelsea is reported to total 1.5 billion pounds ($1.85 billion).
“Firstly, Mr Abramovich’s intentions in relation to gifting the proceeds from the Chelsea sale to charity have not changed,” his spokesperson said in a statement published on Chelsea’s website.
“Secondly, 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.”
The spokesperson added the loan has also become subject to European Union sanctions and requires additional approvals.
“That means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by authorities,” the statement read.
“These funds are still earmarked for the (Chelsea) 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.”
($1 = 0.8097 pounds)
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond)