Roman Abramovich has released a statement saying he has taken the decision to sell Chelsea FC.
The Russian billionaire ushered in a new era for Chelsea and the Premier League when he bought the club in 2003.
But Abramovich’s ownership has come under scrutiny following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 55-year-old handed the “stewardship” of Chelsea to the club’s charitably foundation trustees last week.
“I would like to address the speculation in the media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC,” began the statement.
“As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. 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.
The statement also added that Abramovich would not ask for any loans to be repaid – in effect writing off £1.5 billion in debt – and that net proceeds of any sale would be donated to a charitable foundation that would be used to benefit “all victims of the war in Ukraine”.
“The sale of the Club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process. I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club.
“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.
“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.
“I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”
It was reported on Tuesday night that Abramovich had offered Chelsea to potential buyers, with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss telling Blick that “like all other oligarchs, he is in a panic”.
LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, who reportedly tried to buy Chelsea in 2019, is a contender, according to the New York Post.
UFC star Conor McGregor has also seemingly thrown his hat into the ring by tweeting: “I wish to explore this. @ChelseaFC”
The statement from Abramovich said that the sale would not be fast-tracked but would follow due process.