Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has said he is intending to sell the club.
In a statement on the Premier League club’s website, businessman Abramovich said it was an “extremely difficult decision to make”, which “heartbroken” him.
The Russians will not ask to “repay any loans” and the proceeds of the sale will be donated to war victims.
On Saturday, Abramovich said he would hand over “management and care” of Chelsea to the trustees in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
That led to speculation that he would sell the club and earlier on Wednesday, billionaire Hansjorg Wyss told the Swiss newspaper. Blick he has been offered the opportunity to buy the west London club.
Wyss said Abramovich wanted to “get rid of Chelsea quickly” after the threat of sanctions was raised in Parliament.
Abramovich, 55, is said to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he has denied.
He said “all proceeds from the sale” will be donated to “victims of the war in Ukraine”.
In his statement, Abramovich added: “I always make decisions in the best interest of the club.
“In the current situation, I have decided to sell the club because I believe it is in the best interest of the club, its fans, staff, as well as its sponsors and partners. club.
“The sale of the club will not be done quickly, but will follow a due process. I will not ask for any loans to be repaid.
“I have instructed my team to set up a charity fund, where all proceeds from the sale will be donated. This fund will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”
BBC Sport understands that trustees of the Chelsea charity, who have yet to agree to take control of the club, will no longer be required. before the team’s FA Cup fifth round match at Luton Town.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140m, and he says it was “never about business or money, but about pure passion for the game and the club”.
A transformed club
Since he bought the club, Chelsea has been transformed, setting the mold for the financial sums needed to compete for the bottom half of the Premier League.
In total, Abramovich loaned the club more than £1.5 billion, helping to bring about great success.
Under his possession, the club won every major trophy possible – including the Champions League twice, both the Premier League and FA Cup five times, the Europa League twice and the League Cup three times.
In August 2021 they won the Uefa Super Cup and in February won their first Club World Cup.
Why did Abramovich choose to sell?
Other Russian billionaires have been subject to European Union sanctions when their assets were frozen.
That includes Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has commercial connections to Everton.
The UK government has yet to sanction Abramovich or Usmanov, but Labor MP Chris Bryant said in Parliament on Tuesday that Abramovich “is very afraid of being punished, that’s why he will sell his house. tomorrow. [Wednesday]and another apartment”.
On Wednesday, in question by the Prime Minister, Labor leader Keir Starmer asked why Abramovich was not facing sanctions, to which Boris Johnson replied that it was “not appropriate to comment on any case”. any individual at this stage”.
Wyss also said: “Abramovich is looking to sell his entire mansion in England, he also wants to get out of Chelsea quickly.
“I and three others received an offer to buy Chelsea on Tuesday from Abramovich.”
A spokesman for Abramovich declined to comment on those claims.
‘One of the most important, controversial and influential figures in English football history’ – analysis
Dan Roan, BBC sports editor
While this is not a completely unexpected development after it has become clear over the last 24 hours that Roman Abramovich is looking to sell Chelsea, the dramatic announcement still feels like an earthquake. Not only for the west London club, but also for the British wide game.
The arrival of the Russian billionaire nearly two decades ago helped change the Premier League’s balance of competition, profile and spending power, cementing its status as a truly global league.
The tycoon’s wealth has made Chelsea a major player in the game, and his ownership seems to pave the way for subsequent acquisitions by foreign billionaires, such as in football clubs. sets like Manchester City.
But there is also considerable controversy.
With Abramovich – one of Russia’s richest men – almost never commenting in public, he has also become a symbol of the detachment of some of the super-rich club owners. Many also find the cruelty with which he treats managers questionable.
There have always been conspiracies surrounding his ownership motives and how he created his fortune. While he has always denied a direct connection to Putin, the invasion of Ukraine has prompted parliament to call on the government to punish wealthy Russians.
Abramovich vehemently denies that he has done anything worthy of the sanctions imposed on him. But as the most famous tycoon in the country, and with one congressman cited concerns about alleged links to corruption, His ownership is under closer scrutiny.
And with the government facing growing pressure to appropriate his assets, and Abramovich being criticized for his failure to explicitly condemn the Russian invasion, it’s no surprise that he was quick promptly announce its decision to sell its property.
Abramovich has seen fewer and fewer visits to Stamford Bridge in recent years, having withdrawn his visa application in 2018 after relations between Britain and Russia deteriorated.
But while fans are used to not seeing Abramovich, the Russian’s departure could mean the club will operate very differently going forward – and perhaps with much more financial restraint – by anyone buy it now.
That could help explain why some at Chelsea will no doubt see him gone. Many other observers will be pleased, especially as the conflict continues in Ukraine.
But he goes away as one of the most important, controversial and influential figures in English football history.
Football financier Kieran Maguire
Trying to rate a club is always a challenge. I calculated the valuation for all Premier League clubs by 2020, they value Chelsea at around £1.2 billion.
Chelsea have also lost more money than any other club in Premier League history, so from a financial perspective it will be difficult to justify the reported £2billion price tag, especially as their stadium they are much smaller than their competitors from the ‘Big Six’.
However, if there is a good-faith buyer and a good-faith seller, an agreement usually takes place simply after due diligence by both parties has taken place.
If assets are frozen or sanctioned then the nature of the sanctions may or may not prevent an individual or company from taking money and/or property out of the UK.
Chelsea’s £1.5 billion debt owes to Abramovich’s company Fordstam to another of his, Camberley International Investments, based in the British Virgin Isles, so to some extent Abramovich is both a borrower as a lender. However, he now says he will “not ask for any loans to be repaid”.
So from a financial point of view, football clubs are not always a big investment. But for those who want to buy a club as a title property, where the rewards, such as league and cup championships, kudos and the fame it brings, they may feel that the club set is a worthy investment.
A tumultuous week for Chelsea
February 24: Russian President Vladimir Putin launches a military invasion of Ukraine.
February 25: Labour’s Chris Bryant tells MPs the UK government should remove Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea and confiscated his assets, citing concerns about alleged links to corruption.
February 26: Abramovich announced that he was giving “management and care” of Chelsea for its charity.
February 27: Organization member express concern about whether the Charity Commission’s rules would allow them to run the club. Chelsea beat Liverpool 11-10 on penalties in the League Cup final at Wembley after the game ended 0-0.
February 28: Abramovich asked by Ukraine to help support their efforts to reach a “peaceful solution” with Russia.
March 1st: The Charity Commission said it was “look for information” from Chelsea after the club was placed under the control of his charity.
March 2: Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss claims he has been offered Chelsea by Abramovich.
March 2: Abramovich announced he intends to sell the club.
‘It could take months or years’
Former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer on BBC One: “It’s a great moment for Chelsea. He has delivered great success over his 20 years but selling a football club is not easy. It can take months or years.
“But more importantly, there is still no condemnation from Roman or the club for what is happening in Ukraine.”
Former Manchester City and England defender Micah Richards on BBC One: “It was a better statement than Saturday, there was a lot more clarity and Roman Abramovich did the right thing.
“It’s sad that we have to talk about this on a football night after all the scenes we’ve witnessed. It’s heartbreaking. It happened as soon as possible.”