The Chelsea FC owner, Roman Abramovich, has said he will sell the club and use the net proceeds to set up a charitable foundation to support people affected by the war in Ukraine.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, used parliamentary privilege last week to call in the House of Commons for Abramovich’s assets to be seized and for him to be barred from owning a British football club after a leaked 2019 Home Office document linked Abramovich to the Russian state.
The Russian billionaire, who bought the club for £140m in 2003, said over the weekend that he was handing control of it to the Chelsea FC Foundation after his compatriots faced a clampdown on their assets because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
There have been concerns raised about the ability of the foundation, which had an income of £5.7m in the year to the end of June 2021, to oversee the running of a football club that turns over hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
The Charity Commission confirmed earlier in the week that it was in contact with the charity over the move.
In a statement issued last night, Abramovich said it was in the “best interest of the club” that he should sell, with the proceeds going to establish a foundation to benefit the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Chelsea FC was valued by Forbes last year at £2.4bn but it has since won the Champions League, which would likely increase its value.
“The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process,” said Abramovich.
“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.”
It is not yet clear who will buy the club, but a number of suitors are believed to be interested.