A German consortium is poised to mount a takeover bid for Chelsea, according to reports in the British media on Friday. The club's chief executive however says the West London-based team is not for sale.
Chelsea players could be looking at a new owner in the near future
Sulaiman al Fahim, who represented Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour in his 200 million-pound ($274 million) takeover of Manchester City in August, is understood to be working on the deal with Switzerland-based private equity firm Falcon Equity.
Chelsea is currently owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who is said to have lost a large part of his fortune in the global economic crisis.
"It's not entirely clear if Chelsea is for sale, but regardless of that, we first need to see if we are in a position to buy it," Al Fahim told the Arabian Business Web site.
"Given that Roman Abramovich has invested over 500 million pounds (530 million euros, $678.5 million) into the club, it would not be cheap, and with the current credit crunch, nobody wants to be over-exposed on one deal," he said. "But through a number of investors, there is money available to put together a deal."
Investors mostly German
Abramovich was reportedly hit hard by the financial crisis
The Guardian said that those investors are believed to be five in number, and to be predominantly German.
"We have looked before at some European clubs to see if the numbers added up, and now we are doing the same with Chelsea," Holger Heims, a managing partner in Falcon Equity, was quoted as saying. "I can't go into more details at this stage."
"I don't believe anything is ever not for sale if you come up with the right price," he added. "It's not about trying to buy a football team but about a business.
"You don't make money because 11 guys run around the pitch, you make money because of all the other commercial aspects that go with a football club, particularly real estate and television rights."
First German players, now German owners for Chelsea?
Abramovich bought Chelsea for 140 million pounds in 2003. The club won the Premier League in 2005 and 2006, the FA Cup and League Cup in 2007 and reached the European Champions League final in 2008.
His fortune is believed to have diminished in the economic downturn, but has insisted he is committed to the club, taking legal action against a newspaper that suggested he was looking to sell.
Chief executive Peter Kenyon said on Saturday: "Chelsea is not for sale. The owner has not and is not looking to sell his interest in the club and he remains as committed as ever."