Russian businessman Roman Abramovich said on Wednesday he would sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after buying it and setting the team on a path to sporting glory, and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
Amid growing calls for Abramovich to be hit by sanctions after Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, the metals magnate said in a statement that a sale was in the best interests of the reigning European and world soccer champions.
“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,” he said.
According to Reuters, Abramovich said he would not ask for loans he has made to the Premier League club – reported to total 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion) – to be repaid to him and the sale would not be fast-tracked.
He has told his aides to set up a charitable foundation that would receive all net proceeds from the sale.
“The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine,” Abramovich said in a statement.
Swiss business tycoon Hansjoerg Wyss told a newspaper that he was considering buying Chelsea from Abramovich who over the weekend said he was stepping back from running the club but made no mention of any plans to change its ownership.
“Abramovich is currently trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly now. I, along with three other people, received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich,” Blick quoted Wyss as saying in an interview published on Wednesday. read more
Abramovich bought the West London club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds and his investment contributed hugely to the most successful era in the team’s history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.