Chelsea have stepped up interest in buying a stake in Strasbourg after Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, opened the door to relaxing restrictions on clubs with the same owner playing in the same European competitions.
The Strasbourg president, Marc Keller, confirmed this month he was in talks with Chelsea’s co-owner Todd Boehly over a full or partial sale of the Ligue 1 club and it is understood those discussions have intensified. Ceferin said this week that Uefa was considering a rule change, after Manchester United’s takeover talks raised issues around the potential conflict of two clubs in the same competition coming under one owner.
“We’ve had five or six owners of clubs who want to buy another club,” Ceferin told Gary Neville’s The Overlap YouTube channel. “We have to see what to do. The options are that it stays like that or that we allow them to play in the same competition. I’m not sure yet.”
Any change would be a major boost for Boehly, who revealed in September that Chelsea “had talked about having a multi-club model” as a method of making sure “we can show pathways for our young superstars to get on to the Chelsea pitch while getting them real game time”.
He is believed to have appointed Chelsea’s new president of business, Tom Glick, to take charge of the process, with approaches previously rejected by Lyon, Sochaux and Bordeaux, the six-times French champions who are aiming for promotion from Ligue 2. It is understood that Strasbourg, who are 15th in Ligue 1 and clear of the relegation zone only on goal difference, have been looking for investment and could provide an end to Chelsea’s search for a club in a country that has one of the most potentially lucrative sources of young players in the world.
Chelsea declined to comment. Keller, who is a frontrunner to replace Noël Le Graët as president of France’s football federation, said at the beginning of March that he had had lunch with Boehly and Boehly’s partners to discuss a potential deal after it was reported by the French newspaper L’Équipe. “I’m meeting people, from Chelsea and elsewhere, but nothing is done as it stands,” he said. “The other shareholders and I have a sense of responsibility and will be careful regarding the profile of potential investors, whatever their nationality.”
Chelsea have also sounded out clubs in Belgium and Portugal, with Boehly believed to have consulted Jorge Mendes over which clubs to consider in the Portuguese agent’s homeland and held talks with Portimonense’s owners over potential investment.
At present, Uefa regulations bar entry to European competition to clubs that “hold or deal in the securities or shares of any other club participating”, although this does not apply if a person with a 100% shareholding in one club has a “non-decisive influence” shareholding in another club in the same competition.
The Newcastle director Amanda Staveley has suggested the club’s owners are interested in adding a club to their portfolio to “grow Newcastle and our brand”.
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