Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has announced that he intends to sell Chelsea Football Club with the net proceeds from the sale being used to establish a charitable foundation to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine, a statement from the club on Wednesday evening revealed.
In an earlier statement, Abramovich had revealed his intention to hand over the day-to-day stewardship of the Chelsea FC to the “trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation,” a move commentators had suggested was designed to distance the Russian oligarch from the club after the U.K. government had begun to impose personal sanctions on and seize the assets of high-net-worth Russians with links to Vladimir Putin. However, Abramovich will now actively seek to sell the club, a move he believes “is in the best interests of the club, the fans, the staff and the club’s sponsors and partners.”
Abramovich stressed that the sale of the football club will not be fast-tracked and will follow due process, and revealed that he will not be seeking repayment of any loans he has provided to the club.
“For me, it was never about the business or the money, but about the passion for the game and the club,” Abramovich wrote, adding that a charity would also be set up with the net proceeds of the sale of Chelsea being used to support victims of the war in Ukraine — the funds will cover the victims’ urgent and immediate needs while also supporting long-term recovery work in the country.
Abramovich bought the west London football club in 2003, which has since won both the English Premier League and the FA Cup five times, the Champions League twice and the Europa League once.
“I hope I can visit Stamford Bridge [the home stadium of Chelsea] one last time to say goodbye to all of them in person,” Abramovich told supporters. “It has been a lifelong privilege to be a member of Chelsea and I am proud of our shared achievements. Chelsea and its fans will always be in my heart,” he added.
With a fortune estimated at $12.5 billion, Abramovich is one of the few high-profile Russian billionaires who was not included in the U.K. government sanctions against wealthy Russians operating within the country.