Oily Blues: Saudi group 'makes huge bid' to buy Chelsea Football Club from sanctioned Russian oligarch Abramovich
A Saudi company has reportedly submitted a massive £2.7 billion bid to buy Chelsea Football Club after its owner Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich put the West London side up for sale last week.
This offer is reportedly led by Chelsea 'fan' Mohamed Alkhereiji, the chairman of the Saudi Media Company (SMC).
The SMC is one of the largest media companies in Saudi Arabia and is the exclusive media sales representative for Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) - a company that has heavily invested in The Independent and the Evening Standard.
The New Arab has reached out to the SRMG for comment.
I can confirm Saudi Media Group have made a £2.7bn ($3.5bn) offer to buy Chelsea. Mohamed Alkhereiji is a Chelsea fan and leading a private consortium. No direct government links.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) March 14, 2022
The UK sanctioned Chelsea's current owner Roman Abramovich last week, along with six other oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The company has no direct links to the Saudi government, but many foreign investment firms in the kingdom have indirect links to Saudi state officials.
ستبقى هذه اللحظة باقية، وسيظل تكريم سمو ولي العهد الأمير محمد بن سلمان وسام فخر أتقلده مع فريق عمل @alarabia_ooh في ختام #مهرجان_الملك_عبدالعزيز_للإبل6 pic.twitter.com/ixkdpdhxHr— محمد الخريجي (@malkhereiji) February 2, 2022
Mohamed Alkhereiji pictured alongside Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on his Twitter account and also in his profile picture.
The UK has close ties with Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, the UK's sports minister said the relationship between the two countries is "really important". Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently in Saudi Arabia to discuss purchasing Riyadh's oil as an alternate source of energy for the UK after his government boycotted Russian oil following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Gary Neville, football pundit and former Manchester United player, has urged the English Premier League to implement tougher standards to ensure individuals or states who have committed crimes cannot invest in the Premier League.
"I would be amazed if that Saudi media company was allowed to buy Chelsea off the back of what's happened," he said on Sky Sports on Monday.
🗣 "I would be amazed if that Saudi media company was allowed to buy Chelsea off the back of what's happened."@Carra23 questions @GNev2 on whether the Premier League should allow Chelsea to be owned by a Saudi Arabian group similar to Newcastle pic.twitter.com/XnLyBTvUZi— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 14, 2022
The oil-rich Gulf state already indirectly owns one of England's best-supported clubs with Newcastle United. The Saudi sovereign fund, known as the Public Investment Fund (PIF), own 80 percent of Newcastle United.
Manchester City is also indirectly owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family in the UAE, a country that has been criticised for its crackdown on pro-democracy activists and role in the Yemen war.