Abramovich wipes Chelsea debt

LONDON - Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has erased virtually all of the Premier League club's £340million (R4billion) debt, according to figures released yesterday.

LONDON - Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has erased virtually all of the Premier League club's £340million (R4billion) debt, according to figures released yesterday.

Russian billionaire Abramovich, who reduced the club's debts by half last year, was reported to be owed the money as an interest-free loan, but that has now been turned into shares to make Chelsea all but debt-free.

Chelsea say Abramovich's move "demonstrates the continuing commitment from the shareholder to the group" and it removes fears of a meltdown if the tycoon, who bought the club in 2003, decided to walk away.

During his six-year reign, Abramovich bankrolled big spending in the transfer market, which helped Chelsea win the League in 2005 and 2006, but he has kept a tighter hold on the Stamford Bridge chequebook over the past year. - Sapa-AFP

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