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Russian billionaire says proceeds from Chelsea sale to be donated to ‘victims of war’ in Ukraine

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is in talks to sell English Premier League club Chelsea, amid fear of personal sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said Wednesday. 

In a lengthy statement, he said he has 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,” Abramovich said in a statement.

He added that the sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process and he 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,” he said. 

Abramovich, has also said the net proceeds from the sale will be donated to a charitable foundation he has asked his team to set up.

He added that 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,” he said.

Abramovich added that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and “it pains me to part with the Club in this manner.” He added that he hopes that he will be able to visit the home of Chelsea, Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to everyone 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,” he added.

Abramovich is likely concerned about impending sanctions imposed by the British government, and is reportedly conducting an immediate sale of his U.K. assets.

The assets he is looking to offload include his a $260 million London property empire and his stake in the Chelsea football club, British Member of Parliament Chris Bryant said, according to The Associated Press

Bryant said in a speech at U.K.’s House of Commons that he was “terrified of being sanctioned” and that, “the danger is that Mr Abramovich will have sold everything by the time we get round to sanctioning him.”

The U.K. has currently sanctioned eight Russians since the invasion of Ukraine, with the EU freezing their assets and has since imposed travel bans on several others. Abramovich has not been sanctioned by Britain or the European Union.

The New York Times reported that he is seeking at least $2.5 billion for the club. He bought the club for close to $189 million in 2003. 

Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick that he was one of four people that has “received an offer to buy Chelsea” on Tuesday. 

“Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England; he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,” Wyss told the newspaper.

However, he added that Abramovich is currently asking far too much. “You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price.”

According to the AP, Chelsea, currently owes Abramovich more than $2 billion in loans after 19 years of infusing money to elevate the club into one of the most successful in Europe.

Chelsea did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

The news of Abramovich reportedly offloading his stake in Chelsea comes just days after he announced he was handing over the “stewardship” of the Premier League team to the trustees of its charitable foundation amid Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

“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,” Abramovich said in a statement one day before Chelsea lost to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

Updated at 1:40 p.m.

Tags Premier League football Roman Abramovich Russian oligarch sanctions on russian nationals
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