Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has started official negotiations in Ankara to buy Turkish Super League team Goztepe, a report has claimed following the UK government’s decision to sanction the Russian businessman because of his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin.
Billionaire Abramovich cannot complete his sale of the Premier League club under restrictions aimed at preventing the 55-year-old from profiting from the businessman.
With an array of bidders vying to buy the Champions League holders under special dispensation from the government for a deal, Abramovich headed to Turkey for talks with Mehmet Sepil, the outgoing President of Goztepe, on Tuesday, according to CNN Turk.
Former energy firm chief Sepil is said to have bought the club, which is based in the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast, for $7.5 million in 2014.
Goztepe returned to Turkish top flight the Super Lig for the first time in 14 years in 2017 but are currently in the relegation zone.
Abramovich’s assets have been frozen in the UK and the EU, where he has also been blacklisted as part of sanctions imposed since the start of the attack on Ukraine on February 24.
— TurkishFootballNews (@TRFootballUpdat) March 21, 2022
A deal with Sepil, who Abramovich is said to have made contact with through a Turkish businessman, could appeal because Turkey is not in the EU.
The outlet said that Abramovich will meet Sepil’s representatives face-to-face within days.
Sepil is the majority shareholder at the club and has said he will fulfil his obligations to the team until the end of the season in May.
Announcing his resignation on Monday, the 67-year-old called it a “great honor” to lead Goztepe.
“My only priority and sensitivity in the formation of a new management that will take over the responsibilities of Goztepe Sports Club is to bring our club to a better place than it is now, with a new enthusiasm,” he added.
Chelsea have won every major club trophy since Abramovich transformed the Blues by taking over in 2003.
An asking price of around $4.6 million was mooted when Abramovich announced on March 10 that he would sell the club.
Reports have claimed Chelsea will cost a record amount for a sports team or franchise, although the final figure is expected to be closer to $4 billion.
While Salary Sport claims the combined annual wage bill of Chelsea’s players is around $235 million, the site estimates Goztepe’s total salary outlay at a relatively modest $10.7 million – which would mean all of their players combined earn less than Saul Niguez, who Chelsea signed on loan from Atletico Madrid in August.
Rookie Trevoh Chalobah is the only Chelsea player over 18 who purportedly receives less than Adis Jahovic, the North Macedonia veteran named as Goztepe’s top earner.