The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich wants to sell the English football club Chelsea. The proceeds will benefit the victims of the Ukraine war through a foundation, the 55-year-old said in a statement on the Chelsea website on Wednesday. Abramovich has been in the headlines in Britain for weeks because of his alleged closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin. MPs have repeatedly called for him to be put on the sanctions list.
“I have always made my decisions in the best interests of the club,” Abramovich said in the statement. In his opinion, the sale is now in the interests of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the sponsors and partners. He will not demand repayment of his loans to the London club, to which he is said to have lent a total of £1.5 billion (1.8 billion euros), according to media reports. “For me it was never about business or money, it was about pure passion for the game and the club.”
Abramovich has transformed Chelsea from a wallflower into one of the biggest clubs in Europe since joining in 2003. During this period, the “Blues” won the English Championship and the FA Cup five times each, as well as the League Cup three times and the Champions League and Europa League twice each. After the Champions League triumph in the summer, German coach Thomas Tuchel and his team recently gave Chelsea the title at the Club World Cup for the first time.
Tuchel reacted cautiously to the owner’s announcement of the sale. “Hopefully” not much will change for the team in the short term, said the successful coach. “Maybe it doesn’t change anything. We’ll do what we can to block out the noise and stay focused, which isn’t always easy.”
In the past, Abramovich has repeatedly been criticized in Great Britain for his proximity to the Kremlin. According to Labor Party leader Keir Starmer, a Home Office document shows the oligarch was targeted by authorities over his links to Putin and allegations of corruption.
Last week, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich announced he would hand over management of Chelsea to a charitable foundation. A sale has been in the air since then. According to Abramovich, the money should go to a charitable foundation. This will “benefit all victims of the war in Ukraine”, as emergency aid and to support long-term reconstruction.
Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has already expressed interest in a takeover. The 86-year-old confirmed in the Swiss tabloid Blick that he and three other people had received an offer to buy Chelsea. However, it is not yet clear whether he will buy it. “I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much.”