Sport

Football-Chelsea owner Abramovich hands over club management amid Ukraine pressure

FILE PHOTO: Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich walks past the High Court in London
FILE PHOTO: Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich walks past the High Court in London November 16, 2011. REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett

February 26, 2022

By Rohith Nair

(Reuters) – Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has entrusted the London side with the management of the Premier League club’s foundation, the Russian billionaire said on Saturday, amid British calls that he will be punished for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich, who bought the London club in 2003, said the fund was in “the best position to look after the interests” of the club.

“I have always viewed my role as club manager, whose job is to ensure that we are as successful as we are today, and build for the future, while also playing an active role in the community. our community,” he said in a statement.

“I always make decisions in the best interest of the club. I remain committed to these values. ”

Abramovich remains the club’s owner and has stated that he has not revealed why he has delegated the management of the foundation nor any details of how the arrangement will work.

Several Russian individuals and entities have been sanctioned by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea this week.

Abramovich has not faced any sanctions but several British opposition lawmakers said on Thursday he should be included. One, Chris Bryant, said the UK should seize his property and ban him from owning football clubs.

Abramovich, whose fortune comes in part from mining in Russia, did not address the situation in Ukraine or the issue of sanctions in his statement on Saturday.

The chairman of the Chelsea Foundation board is American attorney Bruce Buck, who is also the club’s general chairman.

Organizing trustees include women’s team manager Emma Hayes and the club’s chief financial officer Paul Ramos.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Friday that uncertainty over Abramovich’s future was weighing heavily on the club ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final.

Chelsea achieved unprecedented success after Abramovich took over, winning five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.

The Russians invested money in Chelsea, allowing them to sign key players and break the dominance of Manchester United and Arsenal in the mid-2000s.

A study published by the Switzerland-based independent research group CIES Football Observatory found that Chelsea have spent 1.628 billion euros ($1.83 billion) in transfer fees over the past decade alone – second only to Manchester City .

However, Abramovich is not known for his patience and the club has appointed more than a dozen different coaches since he took over. Some, such as Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink, have served two separate terms, with the latter being appointed on an interim basis.

(1 dollar = 0.8875 euros)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Simon Evans; Editing by Alison Williams and Frank Jack Daniel)

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