Roman Abramovich has confirmed he is selling Chelsea Football Club, with all net proceeds from the sale to be donated to victims of the war in Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Labour MP Chris Bryant used Parliamentary Privilege to also reveal Abramovich is selling his UK home and another flat, telling the House of Commons the Russian billionaire is “terrified of being sanctioned”.
He handed “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the club foundation’s trustees on Saturday, in a move aimed to protect the Stamford Bridge club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Chelsea owner has now publicly admitted he is looking to sell the club, with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss claiming he has been offered the chance to buy the club.
Abramovich is owed £1.5billion by Chelsea after buying the club in a £140m deal in 2003, but says he will not ask for any of the loans to be repaid.
He says the sale of Chelsea “will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process”.
“This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club,” Abramovich said.
Abramovich is attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, according to his spokesperson, and says he has instructed his team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale of Chelsea will be donated.
“The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine,” said Abramovich.
“This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
Roman Abramovich statement in full
I would like to address the speculation in media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC. 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 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.
Analysis: Abramovich had no choice but to sell
Kaveh Solhekol on Sky Sports News:
“It’s an absolutely incredible statement from Roman Abramovich. First of all, he confirms he is going to sell Chelsea and he also says that the net proceeds from the sale are going to go to a charitable foundation, and that will benefit all victims of the war in Ukraine.
“He also says that he will not be asking for his loans to the club to be repaid bearing in mind that he has put in about £1.5bn since he bought the club 19 years ago. He’s also saying he doesn’t want a quick sale; all due process will be followed, he wants this done properly, not quickly, which would seem to suggest he doesn’t think his assets are going to be frozen by the UK Government.
“If he was sanctioned and his assets were frozen he wouldn’t be able to sell Chelsea. He also says that he wants, if possible, to be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye properly.
“He’s doing this because he believes it to be in the best interests of the club and also the supporters. We have to say that because of the current situation in Ukraine and the fact Russia has invaded Ukraine and the fact that he is a Russian oligarch, used to be a governor of a province and used to be a member, effectively MP, in Russia who was close to Vladimir Putin, he really had no choice because it didn’t look like he was going to be able to carry on being the owner of Chelsea.
“A lot of people will be saying credit to him that he’s going to give away all the money he gets from selling it to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine.”
£3bn price tag to buy Chelsea?
Abramovich has slapped a £3bn price tag on Chelsea as he prepares to end his near-two decade ownership of the London club, according to Sky News.
Sky News has learnt Abramovich’s advisers at The Raine Group were expected to issue letters to prospective bidders on Wednesday, with a deadline set for indicative bids in mid-March.
Sources close to the process said as many as eight multi-billionaires were being sounded out about their appetite to buy the club at a time when Abramovich faces the possibility of being sanctioned by the UK Government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian is said to have turned down an offer of £2.5bn for the club from an unidentified third party earlier this week, with bids of £3bn or more expected to be taken seriously.
Among those who have expressed an interest in buying Chelsea in the past are the Ineos tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Todd Boehly, an American businessman, although it was unclear whether either remained interested in a deal.
Several of the parties contacted by Raine are understood to be from the US, with others from Asia.
Who could put together deal to buy Chelsea?
However, Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol does not believe the process to sell Chelsea will be an easy one.
He explained: “For the first time since Abramovich bought Chelsea 19 years ago, he’s willing to listen to offers for the club.
“On Saturday, we saw him try to give up control of the club and hand it over to the Chelsea Foundation trustees. That has proven to be much more difficult than he thought it would be and selling the club in the current climate is going to be much more difficult than maybe he imagines it’s going to be.
“It’s very significant that Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has come out and said that Abramovich is basically desperate to sell the club. We’ve also heard from Chris Bryant MP, who used parliamentary privilege to say Abramovich is terrified that he is going to be sanctioned by the UK Government.
“According to Mr Bryant, Abramovich wants to sell his house in London, sell another flat and that was apparently going to happen today. If Abramovich is trying to dispose of all of his UK assets, it’s obvious that he would dispose of Chelsea as well.
“The only issue is – who could buy Chelsea at the moment? Who could put a deal together? Because any prospective buyer is going to be thinking ‘this is a person, Abramovich, who could be sanctioned by the UK Government at any moment. His assets could be frozen. Is this someone I want to do business with at the moment?’.
“Abramovich himself has always said that he believes he has not done anything that warrants him being sanctioned by the UK Government, but for the first time in 19 years, Abramovich is willing to listen to offers for Chelsea.
“But selling Chelsea at the moment is going to be just as complicated as trying to hand over control to the club to the Chelsea Foundation trustees.”