Premier League giants Chelsea have denied claims that their owner Roman Abramovich is looking to sell the top-flight English soccer club.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that the Russian oligarch, 51, has put Chelsea on the market for an asking price of more than UK£2 billion (US$2.6 billion), which would shatter the record for the highest amount ever paid for a soccer team.
Abramovich reportedly rejected a UK£2 billion bid for the club earlier this year from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, as he made intentions clear to hold out for a higher bid.
Clouding the picture is a report from the Daily Telegraph suggesting Abramovich has appointed the same specialists who helped Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership sell a 13 per cent stake to Chinese investors in 2015 to secure a new minority shareholder for Chelsea in order to release funds.
The reports come after Chelsea’s UK£1 billion plans to redevelop their Stamford Bridge home had to be put on hold in May after Abramovich was unable to secure a new visa to work in the UK. Since then, Abramovich secured Israeli citizenship allowing him to enter the UK easily for short periods, but speculation has continued to mount over his commitment to the club.
However, Chelsea have now moved to deny the latest rumours, with a source familiar with the situation telling Press Association that Abramovich has no plans to sell the London outfit.
Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003, since when the club have enjoyed the most prosperous period in their history, winning five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Uefa Champions League in 2012.
Chelsea have won all three of their opening league games under new manager Maurizio Sarri, with the latest triumph coming courtesy of a late goal in a 2-1 win away to Newcastle on Sunday.