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Chelsea owner Abramovich axes £340m of debt
By Michael Kavanagh
Published: December 30 2009 18:59 | Last updated: December 30 2009 18:59
Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire, has wiped out £340m of debt of Chelsea Football Club, leaving the current English Premiership leaders largely debt-free.
The move, which puts Chelsea in a strong position ahead of proposed rules seeking to prevent European football clubs from taking on unsustainable levels of debt, was disclosed in its financial results for the year to June 30.
Billionaire Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich has made the club virtually debt-free by turning interest-free loans of £340m owed to him by Chelsea into equity
New stadium becomes top goal for Everton FC - Nov-23.Ugly truth behind the beautiful game - Nov-20.Arrests made in €10m match-fixing probe - Nov-20.Germany probes football ‘match-fixing’ - Nov-19.Ireland demands replay in soccer controversy - Nov-19.Cairo angered by football violence in Algeria - Nov-17..Mr Abramovich converted the £340m of interest-free loans owed by the club to him into equity. It follows a similar gesture of largesse from the club owner in the previous year, reducing Chelsea’s burden of debt to Mr Abramovich from a peak £760m.
Bruce Buck, Chelsea chairman, said: “The club’s debt load has been reduced almost to nil.
“The reduction will also enable the club to comply with any regulations on debt levels which are being discussed by the football community.”
Chelsea’s move to debt-free status follows a protracted spending spree under the ownership of Mr Abramovich, who bought the club in 2003. It has since seen a succession of high-profile managers gain domestic honours but fail to deliver his ambition of a Champions League victory.
Losses for the year to June fell from £66m to £44m and would have been lower but for a £12.6m payment to former Brazilian World Cup-winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari and three staff following his sacking during last season.
Revenue slipped from £213.1m to £206.4m. Net capital expenditure was reduced from £85.1m to £4.2m following the completion of major capital projects such as the club’s training centre at Cobham.
The debt conversion into equity is consistent with a long-term plan agreed with Peter Kenyon, who recently stepped down as chief executive, for “Phase II” of the Abramovich era aimed at reining in Chelsea’s spending on player transfers and wage bills as the club seeks to break even financially.
The tidying up of Chelsea’s balance sheet also comes soon after publication of a blueprint by Europe’s footballing authorities aimed at curbing the ability of club-owners to buy their way to success.
In September, Michel Platini, Uefa’s president, set out a three-year plan, entitled Fair Play Agenda, aimed at linking clubs’ spending to the revenue they generate, preventing them from accumulating unsustainable levels of debt and controlling the amount spent on transfers and salaries.
Revealing the measures recently, Mr Platini said: “The basic premise is that clubs should not spend more than they earn,” and claimed he had the support of Mr Abramovich.