According to the Sunday Times newspaper in the UK last week, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has quietly put Chelsea Football Club up for sale.
Despite winning the Premier League as recently as 18 months ago, though, sources in London believe Abramovich has lost some of his passion for the project, prompting his desire to listen to offers close to the £2bn ($2.58bn) mark.
The Sunday Times – which, incidentally, was successfully sued nine years ago for a similar claim – even suggested he’s now brought in consultants from the Raine Group, a specialist bank part-owned by Mubadala, to seek interest from investors in China, the US and Middle East.
Despite the pricetag, which represents a reasonable return on the $1.55bn Abramovich has sunk into the club since he acquired it in 2003, is sure to attract interest from across the latter.
Gulf investors have long been drawn to the earning potential and global stature of English football, with current champions Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the most obvious and successful example.
With Vision 2030 on the horizon, the ability for Saudi to project the country to a global audience in the way Abu Dhabi has managed with Manchester City, and Dubai, via the ubiquity of the Emirates logo, has inside in sporting stadia around the world, has obvious appeal.
In this edition of Inside AB, Jeremy Lawrence and Eddie Taylor look at the value that owning Chelsea FC would have, both financially and as a platform to project a global 'soft' power project.
And with the pound sliding against the dollar-backed riyal, that $2.58bn might start to look like a bargain.
(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)