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Abramovich hands control of Chelsea to club foundation

Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich said on Saturday he transferred the “stewardship and care” of the Premier League club to the trustees of the charitable foundation.

The move comes with Russia under intense scrutiny after Ukraine’s invasion this week.

Billionaire Abramovich, who took over from Stamford Bridge in 2003, said in a statement: “During my nearly 20 years of ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always seen my role as custodian of the club, whose job is to ensure that we as successful as we can be today, building for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities.

“I have always made decisions in the best interests of the club. I remain committed to these values. That is why today I give administrators of Chelsea’s charitable foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.

“I think they are currently in the best position to represent the interests of the club, players, staff and fans.”

It is clear that Abramovich made the decision to protect Chelsea from reputational damage as the war in Ukraine rages on.

The Telegraph reported that Abramovich will remain the owner of the club and has no intention of selling the European champions.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is also chairman of the club foundation.

Blues manager Thomas Tuchel admitted on Friday that uncertainty over Abramovich’s future as owner weighed on his club ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final against Liverpool.

“We shouldn’t pretend this isn’t a problem,” he said. “The situation in general for me and for my staff, the players, is terrible.

“No one expected this. It’s pretty unreal, like I said, it clouds our minds, it clouds our excitement towards the final.”

Earlier this week, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran named Abramovich, taking advantage of parliamentary privileges, as one of the 35 “main drivers” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin who should be sanctioned.

The British government on Friday ordered the freezing of all assets of Putin and his Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Treasury issued financial sanctions against the two men and added them to a list of Russian oligarchs whose properties and bank accounts in the UK had already been frozen.

Abramovich is not on the list.

Britain is a favorite destination for oligarchs and their families and has been criticized for not doing enough to block the flow of money into the country.

Abramovich has provided Chelsea with £1.5bn ($2bn) in financing over the past 19 years.

Chelsea have had a period of unprecedented success as a result, winning five Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns amid a huge amount of silverware since he took over.

“We take note of Mr Abramovich’s statement and urgently seek clarification on what this statement means for the functioning of Chelsea FC,” the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) said in a statement.

“The CST board is ready to work with the trustees of The Chelsea Foundation to safeguard the long-term interests of the club and supporters.

“We stand behind the people of Ukraine.”

Portugal granted The Vanir-exodusship to the 55-year-old in December, and he was also awarded Israeli The Vanir-exodusship.

Abramovich is worth nearly $14 billion, according to Forbes. He was ranked 142nd on the magazine’s 2021 billionaire list.

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