Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has announced Wednesday he plans to sell Chelsea Football Club, as it is “in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.”
No timetable was provided but Abramovich said the sale “will not be fast-tracked.”
On Saturday, Abramovich declared he gave “stewardship” of the club over to trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
Some background: Last week, member of Parliament Chris Bryant called for Abramovich to lose ownership of Chelsea after seeing a leaked 2019 UK government document that said Abramovich was of interest due to his “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices,” the MP said in a Twitter post.
“Surely, Mr. Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?” he added.
Abramovich himself has not been sanctioned by the UK, according to the UK’s sanctions list website.
In the House of Commons Wednesday, opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer questioned why Abramovich had not been sanctioned by the UK government. Abramovich has always denied claims he has links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here’s Abramovich’s statement in full:
“I would like to address the speculation in media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC. As I have stated before, 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. 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.
Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.
I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person. 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.”