Premier League • England

Roman Abramovich releases statement as Chelsea stewardship handed over to club foundation

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, September 2021

Roman Abramovich has confirmed in a statement that he has handed over the stewardship of the side to the club’s foundation.

The Russian owner has faced criticism for his involvement with Chelsea amid his country’s invasion of Ukraine. What’s more, parliament heard that Abramovich had been named a person of interest in 2019 because of alleged links with the Russian state and alleged association with corrupt activity and practices.

Labour MP Chris Bryant claimed that the 55-year-old should have his assets seized. The politician also questioned whether Abramovich should be able to own a football club and operate in the UK.

As a result of the criticism, Abramovich made a rare statement on Saturday evening, via Chelsea’s official website.

“During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the Club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities,” the statement read.

“I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values.

“That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.

“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans.”

Abramovich will remain as Chelsea owner, the PA news agency understands. However, he will have no say in any decision-making at the Stamford Bridge club.

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The PA news agency also understands Abramovich took the decision in order to protect Chelsea from continual links to the wider situation amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Chelsea’s senior leadership set-up will not change, it is understood.

Abramovich’s step backwards will not have any bearing on any possible UK government sanctions, but was a decision taken solely in Chelsea’s interests.

Reports have claimed that investors are lining up to take advantage of Abramovich’s potential sale of Chelsea.

Nevertheless, if Abramovich faces sanctions, another report from The Times claimed that such a move could have dire consequences for Chelsea.

The Blues owe the owner £1.5billion, which he could ask for if he loses his assets, for example.

Sky Sports News reports that the Chelsea FC Foundation trustees include women’s manager Emma Hayes. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, among others, are also trustees.

Chelsea face immediate on-pitch priorities

Chelsea celebrate Kai Havertz goal v Lille in Champions League

Away from the spotlight on Abramovich, Chelsea face pressing concerns on the pitch too.

They play Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday. Although, manager Thomas Tuchel admitted that the Abramovich situation is clouding his side’s focus ahead of the trip to Wembley.

Tuchel said: “We should not pretend this is not an issue.

“The situation in general for me and for my staff, and for everybody at Cobham, the players, is horrible.

“Nobody expected this. It’s pretty unreal, like I said it’s clouding our minds, it’s clouding our excitement towards the final.

“And it brings huge uncertainty. Much more to all the people and families who are actually in the moment more involved than us.

“And our best wishes, regards and thoughts are obviously with them, which is absolutely the most important thing.”

After facing Liverpool, Chelsea play Luton Town in the FA Cup.