Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has announced he will be selling Chelsea football club after nearly 19 years of ownership.
The Oligarch has taken the decision in the wake of intense scrutiny surrounding his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the country’s recent invasion of bordering nation Ukraine.
British Member of Parliament Chris Bryant had previously 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.
Since his purchase of the club, Chelsea has been transformed, setting the template for how much finance was needed to compete at the top end of the Premier League.
In total, Abramovich has loaned the club more than £1.5bn, which has helped to bring great success.
Under his ownership, the club has won every major trophy possible – including the Champions League twice, both the Premier League and FA Cup five times, the Europa League twice and the League Cup three times.
In August 2021, they won the UEFA Super Cup and in February won their first Club World Cup. He has appointed 13 different managers and the club spent more than £2bn in the transfer market under his ownership.
In a statement on Chelsea’s official website, Abramovich said: “I would like to address the speculation in media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC.”
Adding, “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.”
He continued: “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.”