Roman Abramovich confirms intention to sell Chelsea

The Russian billionaire, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, said he will donate all net proceeds from the sale to a charitable foundation ‘for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine’

Tom Kershaw
Wednesday 02 March 2022 22:55
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Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss reportedly approached to buy Chelsea

Roman Abramovich has confirmed his intention to sell Chelsea amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

The 55-year-old Russian billionaire, who is facing the threat of sanctions from the British state, said that the net proceeds of the club’s sale will be donated to a charitable foundation “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

Abramovich, whose purchase of Chelsea in 2003 changed the landscape of English football, added that he will write off the £1.5bn in loans owed to him by the club.

In a statement released by Chelsea, Abramovich said: “I would like to address the speculation in media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC.

“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.”

Abramovich had previously attempted to pass the “stewardship and care” of the club to its board of trustees – some of whom had reservations about the plan – but later tasked the US-based merchant bank Raine Group to contact potential buyers.

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss confirmed publicly on Wednesday that he was putting together a consortium to make a formal bid for the club, which is also reported to include LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.

“Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England; he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,” Wyss told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer questioned prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday over why Abramovich had not yet been sanctioned. “Last week, the Prime Minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions,” he said. “He later corrected the record to say that he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?”

Abramovich, who has always denied allegations that he has strong ties to Vladimir Putin, added that his ownership of Chelsea, during which the club has won 18 major trophies, “has never been about business nor money, but about pure passion for the game and club”.

“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated,” his statement continued.

“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.”

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