Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roman Abramovich has given Chelsea’s charity foundation “stewardship and care.”
However, Abramovich will remain Chelsea’s owner, and the Russian billionaire, who has invested over £1 billion in the Stamford Bridge club since 2003, will not require the club to return the loans he owes him, ensuring the club’s long-term viability.
It’s also been reported that Abramovich is determined that Chelsea will not be sold.
However, his long-term future with the club is now in doubt.
Whether or not Abramovich returns to a more prominent hands-on position at the club will largely rely on whether or not he faces sanctions, as well as what happens in Ukraine and the UK’s relationship with Russia.
“A lot of Chelsea fans will want to know if he’s still going to be putting money in,” chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol told Sky Sports News. “I believe he will continue to back the club, but that of course could change if the UK Government announce he is being sanctioned – but they haven’t done that so far.”
Some British MPs have said this week that Abramovich, who was born in Russia, should not be permitted to buy Chelsea because of his suspected ties to Vladimir Putin’s administration.
After Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine on Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant said the Russian-Israeli billionaire’s assets should be seized, questioned whether he should be allowed to run his own football club, and cited a leaked government document suggesting he shouldn’t be allowed to be based in the UK.
“During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities,” the owner of Chelsea said on Saturday in a rare statement from Abramovich, which was released on the club’s website on Saturday evening but did not reference either Putin or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC,” he added.
“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans.”
“There’s so many questions which need to be asked, and to come out with a statement just like that; what does it even mean? If you read it, it reads like it’s written in a code – we don’t exactly want to tell you what’s happening, but here you go, read this, pick the bones out of it and see exactly what it means,” said the former England defender and Sky Sports pundit Micah Richards. While criticizing the statement issued by Abramovich.
“I think it’s poor.”
According to reports, Abramovich will no longer be involved in day-to-day club operations, and all long-term strategic decision-making responsibilities would be transferred to the Chelsea Foundation.
Bruce Buck, John Devine, Emma Hayes, Piara Powar, and Hugh Robertson are trustees for the Chelsea Foundation.
When it comes to transfers, executive director Marina Granovskaia, technical advisor Petr Cech, and head coach Thomas Tuchel will stick to the club’s finances.
“As far as football matters are concerned, nothing changes,” reported Solhekol.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)