Following days of speculation and uncertainty, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has announced that he is giving up control of the reigning UEFA Champions League winners. In light of the complications brought about by sanctions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich has decided to hand over control of the club to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
The Russian has been hit hard by the UK government’s sanctions on Russian companies and oligarchs who have close ties to President Vladimir Putin. Numerous companies and individuals have had their assets frozen in the UK, with Abramovich being one of those who had been named specifically during a session of the House of Commons following the invasion which started on Thursday.
Abramovich has been one of the most high-profile football club owners in the world, especially after transforming Chelsea FC into a European powerhouse after buying it in 2003. He led the club to a 21-title haul in the past two decades, making them one of the most successful clubs in recent history. However, he has been facing numerous issues with the UK government in recent years due to his strong links with Putin’s government.
He has been having visa issues for several years, but the problem came to a head following the most recent Ukraine crisis. In a statement on the club’s website, Abramovich said, “During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea, 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”
“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea,” he said, days after finding out that he may not be allowed back in the UK for the foreseeable future.
“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans,” he concluded.
The decision is only the latest of a string of consequences that have rippled through the sporting world in connection to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Formula 1 has announced the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix, which was set to take place in September. Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, who is the son on another Russian oligarch, may lose his seat with Haas.