Football: Abramovich puts Chelsea on sale
Roman Abramovich announced that he will sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after purchasing it and promised to give the proceeds to victims of Ukraine's war
LONDON: Russian millionaire Roman Abramovich announced on Wednesday that he will sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after purchasing it and launching the team to sports glory, and promised to give the proceeds to victims of Ukraine's war.
Amid mounting calls for penalties against Abramovich in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of its neighbour, the mining mogul stated in a statement that a sale was in the best interests of the reigning European and world soccer champions.
"In the current scenario, I have therefore made the choice to sell the club," he explained. "I feel this is in the best interests of the club, the fans, the personnel, as well as the club's sponsors and partners."
Abramovich stated that he will not seek repayment of loans provided to the Premier League club, which are reported to total 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion), and that the sale will not be expedited.
He has directed his staff to establish a nonprofit organization to receive all net earnings from the sale.
"The foundation will benefit all victims of Ukraine's war," Abramovich stated in a statement.
"This includes giving crucial cash for victims' immediate and urgent needs, as well as helping the long-term effort of healing."
Hansjoerg Wyss, a Swiss business billionaire, told a newspaper that he was considering buying Chelsea from Abramovich, who said over the weekend that he was stepping down from running the club but made no mention of any plans to change ownership.
"Abramovich is currently attempting to sell all of his English villas. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea as soon as possible. On Tuesday, I and three other persons received an offer from Abramovich to acquire Chelsea "Wyss said this in an interview published on Wednesday, according to Blick. more info
Abramovich purchased the West London club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds, and his investment was instrumental in the team's most successful era, during which they won five Premier League crowns, five FA Cups, and the Champions League twice.
His purchase of the club aided in the transformation of the English football landscape, with Chelsea breaking the dominance of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool.
They defeated Brazilian side Palmeiras last month to win the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time, after defeating Manchester City to win the European title last season.
The announcement was billed as "a seismic moment" by BBC commentator and former England striker Gary Lineker ahead of coverage of Chelsea's FA Cup fifth-round clash at Luton Town.
Before the game, Chelsea fans at Kenilworth Road yelled the Russian's name.
The 55-year-old, who holds Israeli and Portuguese passports, rose to prominence as one of Russia's most influential oligarchs after amassing vast fortunes following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to Forbes, his net worth is $13.3 billion.
Since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the United Kingdom has sanctioned 12 members of the Russian and Belarusian elite, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as at least 12 banks and corporations.
On Wednesday, British opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the lack of sanctions against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Johnson stated in parliament that he could not delve into individual examples.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, on the other hand, has warned that she has compiled a "kill list" of Russian oligarchs and that the UK will put new sanctions on them every few weeks.
According to the Financial Times, the government is also planning to take property owned by Russian oligarchs. more info
However, David Davis, a veteran lawmaker in Johnson's ruling Conservative Party, believes the transaction should be halted until Abramovich can demonstrate the source of his riches.
"We should do everything we can to keep him from selling his UK holdings," Davis stated on Twitter.
Abramovich stated that the decision to sell was extremely difficult.
"I hope to be able to pay one last visit to Stamford Bridge to say goodbye to all of you in person," he said.
Abramovich left London in 2018 when the British government delayed renewing his visa in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent in England, which it blamed on Moscow.
"Being a part of Chelsea FC has been a privilege of a lifetime, and I am proud of all our collective achievements," he stated.
"Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always have a special place in my heart."
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency