“As I have stated before, I have 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 on Chelsea FC’s website on Wednesday.
Though there is no timetable, Abramovich said that the sale “will not be fast-tracked” and that he will not require loan repayments from the team. Additionally, proceeds from the club sale will go to a charitable foundation benefiting those impacted by Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine.
“This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club,” he said.
“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.”
British Labour MP Chris Bryant recently called for Abramovich to be prohibited from owning the club after citing a leaked U.K. government document from 2019 alleging that Abramovich has “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices.” NPR notes that he is close with Russian President Vladimir Putin and had ties to former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.
Chelsea joins an expanding list of Premier League clubs that are cutting ties to Russia. Last week, Manchester United ended its sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot, and earlier on Wednesday, Everton FC announced that it had suspended all sponsorship agreements with Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota.