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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan, 23, 2009

Arab tycoon to lead Chelsea takeover bid?

The Arab tycoon behind the takeover of Manchester City may become the man to finally test Roman Abramovich's Chelsea resolve.

The Russian billionaire owner insists he has no intention of selling the club - a position underlined by chief-executive Peter Kenyon at a fans' forum last weekend.

But Dr Sulaiman al-Fahim, working with a group of German investors, believes everything has its price - and may be ready to launch a takeover bid.

Fahim is understood to have drawn up a proposal with Falcon Equity - a Swiss-based private equity partnership.

Fahim, CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Hydra Properties, also chairs Falcon Equity, which is run by Holger Heims, former managing partner of 'DVC' Deutsche Venture Capital.

''We have looked before at some European clubs to see if the numbers added up, and now we are doing the same with Chelsea,'' admitted Heims to Arabian Business.

''I can't go into more details at this stage. 'I don't believe anything is ever not for sale if you come up with the right price. It's not about trying to buy a football team but about a business.

''You don't make money because 11 guys run around the pitch, you make money because of all the other commercial aspects that go with a football club, particularly real estate and television rights.''

Fahim added: ''It's not entirely clear if Chelsea is for sale, but regardless of that, we first need to see if we are in a position to buy it.

''Given that Roman Abramovich has invested more than £500m into the club, it would not be cheap, and with the current credit crunch, nobody wants to be over-exposed on one deal.

''But through a number of investors, there is money available to put together a deal,'' he told Arabian Business.

Abramovich's personal fortune is understood to have been affected by the global credit crunch but he is expected to underline his continuing commitment the club when their accounts are published next month.

But Fahim will have to come up with an exceptional deal to persuade Abramovich to relinquish his hold on the Blues - especially as he continues to reject any suggestion of selling up.

Kenyon said: ''We have had investment of £600m in the last five-and-a-half years with excellent facilities and football during that time.

''Next year we expect our operating profit to break even. Our financial accounts for 2007-08 are published in February and any notions about the owner losing interest are dispelled in that.

''The owner does not have to sell Chelsea and he doesn't want to.''

Meanwhile striker Didier Drogba is determined to win back his place in the Chelsea first team despite increasing speculation over his future at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivorian striker, axed from coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's last two squads, is expected to return for their FA Cup fourth round tie against Coca-Cola Championship side Ipswich on Saturday.

Drogba's future is again under scrutiny with speculation that he could be off-loaded to Manchester City as part of an audacious Chelsea move to land unhappy Brazilian Robinho.

But Scolari feels Drogba can still play a massive part in their challenge for silverware this season, even though he left him out of the FA Cup third round replay win over Southend and the subsequent league success over Stoke.

The Brazilian coach's faith in the Ivorian is underlined by Drogba's own intentions to return to action in top form.

''I've not played for the last two matches and I'm in a hurry to return to my best level and be a first-team regular again,'' he said.

''If you look back to last May, I've been out for four to six months and it has been very difficult for me.

''But now I feel in top form. I know what I am capable of doing and the real satisfaction for me is that my knee is completely right.''

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