New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is interested in purchasing the English Premier League club Chelsea F.C., according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Johnson, who purchased Gang Green in 2000 for $635 million, and has a net worth of $5.67 billion, is said to be “readying a bid” for the Blues, which are valued at around $2.24 billion, the report says.
The English soccer club has come up for sale because its current owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, has been widely pressured to exit his ownership stake amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in unprecedented sanctions against both the country and the powerful individuals in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Abramovich had boasted a net worth of nearly $13 billion prior to the economic recession brought on by American and European sanctions, which he made mostly through his ownership stake in refined nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, according to Forbes. The Russian purchased a controlling stake in the club in 2003.
“I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the Club,” Abramovich said in a statement on March 2. “Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.”
Johnson, meanwhile, acquired his fortune as the heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company. Since his purchase of the Jets, the team has missed the playoffs 15 out of 21 seasons.
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In 2017, then-President Donald Trump tapped Johnson to be the Ambassador to the United Kingdom — a position he served in until President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021.
Atop Johnson’s personal connections to the U.K., the NFL helped make the country the “second home” for the Jets, through its International Home Marketing Area initiative, which will expand the team’s footprint across the pond, as the ESPN report noted.
Chelsea, which represents a wealthy area of west London, is considered to be among the most prestigious clubs in the Premier League. The team finished fourth in last year’s tables, and has won 6 league titles — most recently in the 2016-2017 season.
The team currently sits third in the league table with 53 points, behind Manchester City’s 69 and Liverpool’s 63.
There is currently no timetable for the potential sale of Chelsea F.C., but both tensions and increased sanctions continue to ratchet up as the tensions in Eastern Europe reach a boiling point.