Russia’s Roman Abramovich, on Wednesday, announced that he will sell English football club, Chelsea, in the wake of his country’s invasion of Ukraine, an action that has been condemned all over the world.
The Russian billionaire, who has been under pressure and faces threat of sanctions from the British government over the Russia-Ukraine war, has pledged to donate the proceeds of the sales to victims of the war in Ukraine.
The shocking decision to sell the Premier League club he has owned since 2003 is contained in a statement issued by Abramovich on Wednesday, less than an hour before Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Championship side Luton.
The dramatic development is coming a few days after Abramovich announced plans to hand over the control of Chelsea to trustees of charitable foundation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in order to protect the club from speculation and uncertainty.
However, there are reports that the trustees were set to reject the plans as no deal had been agreed.
What the Chelsea Football Club owner is saying
Abramovich in his statement said that he believes that his decision is in the best interest of the Champions League holders if he parts ways with the club he has transformed since he bought it in 2003.
Although Chelsea’s debt to Abramovich currently stands at around £1.5 billion, the billionaire said he will not ask for loans to be repaid, while he is also said to be set to sell his London property portfolio.
- He said, “I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.
- “The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process,” he said.
- “I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.
- “Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated.
- “The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
- Abramovich said he hopes to make one more visit to Stamford Bridge to say goodbye before the curtain falls on his 19-year reign.
- He said, “Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the club in this manner.
- “It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”
Interest in the Premier League Club
- Some interest have been shown in buying the club from the Russian with Swiss billionaire, Hansjorg Wyss, and US investor, Todd Boehly, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, reported to be two of the parties now preparing a joint bid for the Premier League giants.
- Wyss, 86, told Swiss newspaper Blick he had been offered the chance to buy the London club because Abramovich wanted “to get rid of Chelsea quickly” before potential political sanctions took hold.
- It is believed Abramovich’s asking price for Chelsea will be around £3 billion ($4 billion), with American bank the Raine Group reported to have been asked to handle the sale.
What you should know
- Recall that in 2003, Abramovich paid £140 million to buy Chelsea and followed it up with the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager, helping to break the dominance of Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League.
- Chelsea has won 19 major trophies in the Abramovich era, including 2 Champions League crowns and 5 Premier League titles.
- However, his decision to sell the club may be a fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his alleged close links with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
- His concerns about potential seizing of his assets by the British government is understood to have sparked his move to off-load Chelsea Football club.