Blog: Exclusive: Chelsea sale could be smoothed by ‘Brexit-style backstop’ to solve loan impasse – The Telegraph

The £1.6billion stand off between Roman Abramovich and ministers could be unlocked by a Brexit-style backstop allowing the Chelsea sale to go through on time.

Government will prioritise pushing the Russian to write off the loans as promised, but there is also a willingness to eventually discuss an appendix to the club licence to stop it going under.

A backstop – like that agreed with the EU to stop a customs border with Ireland – would see ministers and Abramovich sideline their current feud to allow the sale to complete.

The potential solution has yet to be discussed with Abramovich, but his camp had already been confident a deal can still be completed, despite a tumultuous 24 hours in which he had appeared to renege on a promise.

Sources close to discussions say it was never his intention to leave Government with the impression he wanted to repay the loan to himself. A dispute seems to centre around whether the UK is legally entitled to freeze the loan. The Government believes there has been a shift in the Abramovich position in the fortnight. It was suggested a change in approach may have been triggered by authorities in Jersey swooping two weeks ago to target Camberley International Investments, an offshore account which is believed to be linked to Abramovich.

Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, warned last week that delays could derail the process of ensuring the club’s sale completes by a May 31 licence deadline. The club has since entered exclusive talks with Todd Boehly’s consortium, but one other issue which may attract scrutiny over the coming days is whether two close confidantes of Abramovich – club chair Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia – would be allowed to remain at the club. There has been no clear direction over whether the Boehly ownership would want to keep them on, but the pair are understood to be keen. Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has told the Financial Times their ongoing involvement would be “unsettling”.

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