Sprawled out in the executive box, flashing a toothy grin beneath a greying head of swept-back hair while wearing a pair of dark aviators, Todd Boehly is an intriguing figure that naturally draws plenty of focus.
However, the American billionaire is only one part of the consortium which acquired Chelsea in the biggest sports franchise purchase ever. Clearlake Capital has taken more of a back seat to Boehly but the Santa Monica-based buyout firm shares joint control and equal governance of the club.
In a bid to dilute the Boehly blindness, here’s everything you need to know about Clearlake Capital and the main figures of Chelsea’s subdued part-owners.
According to the company’s stripped back website: “Clearlake currently has over $70bn [£58bn] of assets under management, and its senior investment principals have led or co-led over 400 investments.”
Shortly after acquiring Chelsea in the summer of 2022, Clearlake secured funding for its seventh flagship vehicle with $14.1bn in commitments. The company’s previous investment had attracted $7bn just two years prior. This sizeable jump ensured that Clearlake was ranked as the second-largest buyout fund in the US by Forbes.
Behdad Eghbali (Co-founder)
Behdad Eghbali has been the most present member of Clearlake Capital at Chelsea since the takeover went through last May. The Iran-born former investment banker regularly patrols Chelsea Cobham training ground and is heavily involved in the club’s transfer dealings – Eghbali reportedly led the team that flew out to meet Shakhtar Donetsk’s representatives to finalise the January arrival of Mykhaylo Mudryk.
Eghbali arrived in the US as a ten-year-old – on a tourist visa initially according to The Athletic – before establishing himself as one of the wealthiest individuals in the world through a revered manipulation of the private equity sphere. Forbes values Eghbali’s personal net worth at $4.3bn (£3.6bn). This is a hefty figure Eghbali shares with his fellow Clearlake co-founder Jose E. Feliciano.
Jose E. Feliciano (Co-founder)
Feliciano was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of govWorks which declared bankruptcy at the start of the 21st century but pivoted thereafter to form Clearlake in 2006 with Eghbali and Steven Chang before the latter left the firm in 2015. Feliciano is “responsible for the day-to-day management of the firm” according to his profile on RFK Human Rights.
Feliciano has played a far more reserved role than Eghbali in the purchase of Chelsea but did comment on the “fascinating” exposure owning a football club brings. “In the past 24 months we’ve probably done a dozen transactions, six or seven which had an inter-price value greater than the value of Chelsea,” Feliciano revealed. “Most people in this room will have no idea about the IPG, Cornerstone, nobody has a clue but Chelsea everybody has an opinion, a lot of people have an opinion, particularly in Europe.”
Chelsea are the first sports franchise that Clearlake has invested in, with the company previously focusing on software – though it has held shares in a hand-cut jerky venture in the past. As Clearlake remains entangled with Chelsea, Feliciano will continue to discover that little escapes public scrutiny in the fishbowl world of football.