Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hands his club over to charity

Roman Abramovich handed over Chelsea FC to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation tonight.

In a statement posted on his website just before 7pm, he said: “In my almost 20 years as owner of Chelsea FC, I have always considered my role as the club’s caretaker, whose job it is to ensure what we are doing as well as we can be today, as well as building for the future, while playing a positive role in our communities.

“I have always made decisions in the interest of the club. I remain committed to these values. That is why I entrust today to the trustees of the Chelsea Charitable Foundation the management and care of Chelsea FC.

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

Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and since his arrival has seen a transformation in the fortunes of the club.

The trustees of the Chelsea Foundations are Bruce Buck, John Devine, Emma Hayes, Piara Powar, Seb Coe and Hugh Roberston.

His move tonight came after Parliament was told he had been named as a person of interest in 2019 due to alleged links to the Russian state and “alleged association with corrupt activities and practices “.

And last night it was claimed that any attempt to impose sanctions on him could have been disastrous for the club.

The Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea faced a renewed focus on his business this week

Abramovich denies any suggestion of his alleged closeness to Vladimir Putin and Russia

Abramovich denies any suggestion of his alleged closeness to Vladimir Putin and Russia

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, left, talks to Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Stamford Bridge, London last year

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, left, talks to Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Stamford Bridge, London last year

University of Liverpool football finance professor Kieran Maguire has said he could apply for a loan

University of Liverpool football finance professor Kieran Maguire has said he could apply for a loan

the Times reported that if that had happened it could have prompted him to ask Chelsea to repay the £1.5billion he owed him.

Kieran Maguire, professor of football finance at the University of Liverpool, said: “If he feels he has been made a scapegoat for Putin’s activities, the worst-case scenario is that he tries to ask the loan.”

‘So we have a crisis. He and Putin could argue that it was the British government that destroyed Chelsea football club.

“There could be a lot of misrepresentation and accusations from all sides if the UK government takes this route.

“But I suspect this government won’t want to upset football fans because we have a populist government. I suspect Chelsea’s legal team would review all options.

The billionaire was named in documents leaked to an MP yesterday that linked him to Vladimir Putin’s regime and ‘public association with corrupt activities and practices’.

Publication of the Home Office document led to calls for him to be stripped of his right to own a football club in Britain.

Last night Downing Street did not name him among those to be punished following Putin’s strike on Kiev, naming five Russian-based friends of the regime instead.

The billionaire Chelsea owner has faced renewed scrutiny for his business activities in recent days but has always denied any wrongdoing or grounds for punishment.

The billionaire Chelsea owner has faced renewed scrutiny for his business activities in recent days but has always denied any wrongdoing or grounds for punishment.

Labour's Chris Bryant told the Commons:

Labour’s Chris Bryant told the Commons: ‘Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?’

A fortune mined in steel: The £8.4billion man who handed Chelsea over to charity

Mr Abramovich has an estimated wealth of £8.4billion.

As well as his huge property portfolio, he also owns a series of superyachts, including the £450million Solaris, which has a missile detection system.

Mr Abramovich never had British citizenship and made his money selling assets bought from the state when the Soviet Union broke up.

He arrived at Chelsea in 2003 and transformed the team from outside challengers into a Premier League giant with the help of Jose Mourinho.

The bulk of Abramovich’s British wealth is in Evraz, a steel and mining giant listed on the London Stock Exchange.

But it was nevertheless affected, via the turbulence created on the world markets. Shares of mining companies Evraz and Polymetal International fell by a quarter to a third.

Mr Abramovich is the largest shareholder in Evraz and his shares fell 30% on the day, wiping out nearly £300m of his stake.

He has come under renewed scrutiny over his business activities in recent days, but has always denied any wrongdoing or grounds for punishment.

This morning Labor MP Chris Bryant used parliamentary privilege to share a leaked Home Office document in the Commons.

He said the document was from 2019 and wondered why no action had yet been taken against the 55-year-old based on his warnings.

During Trade Questions this morning, MP and former Minister Rhondda said: ‘I came across a leaked 2019 document from the Home Office which says about Mr Abramovich – ‘As part of HMG’s Russian strategy to target illicit financing and malicious activity, Abramovich remains of interest to HMG due to his ties to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activities and practices.

”An example of this is Abramovich admitting in a court proceeding that he paid for political influence.

”HMG is therefore committed to ensuring that those linked to illicit and malicious financial activity are not able to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal, including immigration powers. to prevent this”.

“That was almost three years ago and yet remarkably little has been done in this regard. Surely Mr. Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country? Surely we should consider seizing some of his assets, including his £152m home? And make sure other people who have had Tier 1 visas like this don’t engage in nefarious activity? »

In 2011 the High Court heard that Mr Abramovich had used well-connected oligarch Boris Berezovsky as his ‘political godfather’ to help him conduct business in a country where the police were ‘corrupt’ and the courts ‘open’ to manipulation”.

The court heard the Chelsea owner believed it was his ‘moral obligation’ to hand Mr Berezovsky £1.3billion to fund his lavish lifestyle.

The Chelsea owner gave the money to his former friend because he felt it was part of the ‘code of honour’ which replaced the rule of law in Russia after the collapse of communism, he said. we affirmed.

The billionaire has not been seen at the home of his south-west London Premier League football club Stamford Bridge for months.

He withdrew his application for a UK Tier 1 investor visa in 2018, after reporting delays in his application following criticism from Russian oligarchs following the Salisbury poisonings.

Downing Street would not be drawn to claims about Roman Abramovich made in the Commons.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I could not comment on individuals in this manner or leaked documents of this type.”

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