Former Unicef UK chief helping to set up charity funded by Chelsea FC sale

Mike Penrose was in the top job at Unicef UK between 2016 and 2019

(Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The former boss of Unicef UK is helping to set up a charity funded from the sale of Chelsea FC, according to media reports.

Mike Penrose has been working with the football club on plans for the new foundation “for several weeks”, Sky News said yesterday

Penrose was chief executive of Unicef UK between 2016 and 2019 and has held senior roles at Save the Children International and the Department for International Development.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic announced in March that he intended to sell the club and donate the net proceeds of the sale to a charity helping victims of the war in Ukraine. The sale could be worth as much as £2.5bn.

In an update earlier this month, Abramovic said his team “had identified senior representatives from UN bodies and large global charitable organisations who have been tasked with forming a foundation and setting out a plan for its activities”.

Shortly after Abramovic announced his decision to sell the club, the UK government froze his assets as part of sanctions imposed on the oligarch because of his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Penrose told Sky he hoped it would be possible to “remove politics” from the creation of the charity.

“The only contact I have had with the owner is via the chair of Chelsea, and one of his spokespeople," he said. “I have never met [Abramovic], nor has he ever conveyed any message to me.

“The only request I received was to use my experience and contacts to create a foundation that would have the greatest impact on conflict-affected people in Ukraine, and in other countries affected by conflict across the globe.”

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