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Monday, May 16, 2022

Chelsea owner Abramovich ‘hands club to charitable foundation’

The Russian billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has tonight handed over Chelsea FC to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.

In a statement posted on its website just before 7pm he said: “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.

“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.”

It came after Parliament was told he had been named as a person of interest in 2019 because of alleged links to the Russian state and alleged “association with corrupt activity and practices.”

And last night it was claimed any attempts to place sanctions upon him could have been disastrous for the club.

The Times reported if that did happen it could have prompted him to ask Chelsea to pay him back £1.5 billion it owes him.

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Liverpool University football finance lecturer Kieran Maguire said: “If he feels he is being made a scapegoat for the activities of Putin then the worst-case scenario is he tries to call in the loan.

“Then we’ve got a crisis. He and Putin could argue that it is the British government that has destroyed Chelsea Football Club.

“There could be a lot of misrepresentation and accusations made from all parties if the British government does go down this route.

“But I suspect this government will not want to upset football fans as we have a populist government. I suspect Chelsea’s legal team would be going through all the options.”

The billionaire was named in papers leaked to an MP on Friday that linked him to Vladimir Putin’s regime and “public association with corrupt activity and practices.”

The release of the Home Office document led to calls for him to be stripped of his right to own a football club in Britain.

Downing Street last night did not name him among those to be punished in the wake of Putin’s strike against Kyiv, instead naming five senior Russia-based cronies of the regime.

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