The situation of the most famous Premier League club owner was already not the most comfortable. Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it has become increasingly untenable. The Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, has owned Chelsea FC since 2003. On Saturday February 26, he announced that he would entrust its management to the administrators of the football club’s charitable foundation.
He explains it briefly in a press release published on the club’s website. “I have always made decisions with the best interests of the club at heart. I remain attached to these values. That is why today I entrust the trustees of the Chelsea Charitable Foundation with the management of Chelsea FC. I believe they are currently in the best position to look after the interests of the club, the players, the staff and the supporters.”explains Roman Abramovich.
“During the almost twenty years that I have owned Chelsea, I have always seen my role as that of a goalkeeper of the club, whose task is to ensure that we perform as well as possible today and that we are building for the future, while playing a positive role in our communities”also underlines the 55-year-old Russian billionaire, who does not specify whether his withdrawal is temporary or permanent.
The contemporary art museum he founded in Moscow, called “Garage”, had also decided to close its doors. “until the human and political tragedy unfolding in Ukraine comes to an end”. In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the museum added that it was “categorically opposed to all actions that sow division and create isolation”.
Another strong symbol, Roman Abramovich’s daughter, Sofia, also posted the following message on Instagram: “The biggest and most successful Kremlin propaganda lie is that most Russians would stand in solidarity with Putin. »
According to the newspaper The Telegraph, Abramovich will remain the owner of the club and is not looking to sell it, which was crowned European champion last season. The oligarch’s distancing comes as British authorities announced sanctions targeting Russian interests following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The British government thus ordered on Friday the freezing of all the assets of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and of his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov. The Treasury has issued financial sanctions notices against the pair, adding them to a list of Russian oligarchs whose assets and bank accounts in the UK have already been frozen. A list on which does not appear Abramovich, who also has Israeli and Portuguese nationalities.
“The situation of the owner disturbs the team”
But Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran (opposition) named him on Wednesday as one of 35 “key men” of Vladimir Putin who should be punished. Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) groups called for clarification on Saturday. “We take note of Mr Abramovich’s statement and are seeking urgent clarification on what this statement means for the management of Chelsea FC.”they wrote in a press release.
“The CST board is ready to work with the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation to secure the long-term interests of the club and supporters. We stand with the Ukrainian people”they conclude.
Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel acknowledged on Friday that the club owner’s situation “disturbed” his team. “We can’t pretend it’s not a problem. The situation in general, for me and my staff, for everyone at Cobham [le centre d’entraînement du club], for the players, is horrible”Tuchel had declared to journalists without pronouncing the name of Mr. Abramovich.
“Nobody expected that. It’s very unreal, like I said, it disturbs our spirits, it darkens our excitement as we approach the final [de la Coupe de la Ligue] »who will oppose his club to Liverpool on Sunday, he added.