With the threat of financial sanctions looming, Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich confirmed Wednesday he is trying to sell the Premier League club he turned into an elite trophy-winning machine with his lavish investment.
The speed of Abramovich’s pending exit from Chelsea is striking as he was trying to instigate a plan this past weekend to relinquish some control in order to keep the club under his ownership.
But as Russia’s war on Ukraine entered a seventh day, pressure was growing on the British government to include him among the wealthy Russians to be targeted in sanctions.
“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 said in a statement.
Abramovich said he will not be asking to be repaid 1.5 billion pounds (US$2 billion) in loans he has granted the club during 19 years of injecting cash to elevate the team into one of the most successful in Europe.
The Blues won the Club World Cup for the first time last month — in front of Abramovich in Abu Dhabi — after securing a second Champions League title last year.
“I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated,” he said. “The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”