Abramovich puts Chelsea football club for sale as calls for punishment grow

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 / File Photo

March 2, 2022

By William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian businessman Roman Abramovich said on Wednesday that he will sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after buying it and set the team on the path to sporting glory, while also promising will raise money from the sale to help the victims of war in Ukraine.

Amid growing calls for Abramovich to be subject to sanctions following Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country, the metal tycoon said in a statement that the purchase was in the best interests of its developers. reigning European and world football champions.

“In light of the current situation, I have decided to sell the club because I believe it is in the best interest of the club, its fans, staff, as well as its sponsors and partners. club,” he said.

Abramovich has said he will not ask for the loans he has made to the Premier League club – reported to have totaled £1.5 billion ($2.0 billion) – to be repaid to him. and the sale will not be expedited.

He told his assistants to set up a charity that would receive all proceeds from the sale.

“The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine,” Abramovich said in a statement.

“This includes providing critical funds for the immediate and urgent needs of victims, as well as supporting long-term recovery work.”

Swiss business magnate Hansjoerg Wyss told a newspaper he was considering buying Chelsea from Abramovich, who over the weekend said he would step back from running the club but made no mention of any any change of ownership plan.

“Abramovich is currently trying to sell all of his villas in the UK. He also wants to get out of Chelsea quickly now. I, along with three others, received an offer to buy Chelsea from Abramovich on Tuesday,” Wyss said in an interview published Wednesday.


Abramovich bought the West London club in 2003 for £140 million and his investment has greatly contributed to the most successful era in the club’s history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cup and Champions League twice.

His club purchase helped change the landscape of English football as Chelsea broke the grip of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

They beat Brazilian side Palmeiras last month to become FIFA Club World Cup champions for the first time, after beating Manchester City to become European champions last season.

“A seismic moment” is how BBC presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker described the announcement ahead of coverage of Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Luton Town.

Chelsea fans on Kenilworth Road chanted the Russian’s name before the game started.

The 55-year-old, who holds Israeli and Portuguese citizenship, became one of Russia’s most powerful businessmen by making a fortune after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Forbes estimated the value. His net worth is $13.3 billion.

Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Britain has imposed sanctions on 12 members of Russian and Belarusian elites, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, and at least 12 banks and companies.

Britain’s opposition Labor leader, Keir Starmer, on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson why there were no sanctions on the Chelsea owner. Johnson, speaking in parliament, said he could not go into details about specific cases.

However, Foreign Minister Liz Truss has warned that she has drawn up a “list” of Russian oligarchs and said the government will impose new sanctions on them every few weeks.

The Financial Times reports that the government is also planning to seize assets owned by Russian tycoons.

Abramovich said the decision to sell was extremely difficult.

“I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to you all,” he said.

Abramovich turned his back on life in London in 2018 when the British government delayed renewing his visa following the assassination of a former Russian double agent in Britain, which Moscow blamed.

“It has been a privilege in a lifetime to be a part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements,” he said.

“Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”

(1 dollar = 0.7481 pounds)

(Reporting by William Schomberg; additional reporting by Martyn Herman and Kate Holton; Editing by Kate Holton and Ed Osmond) Abramovich puts Chelsea football club for sale as calls for punishment grow


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