Billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has ceded direct control of Chelsea football club to the English Premier League club’s charitable foundation, as speculation intensifies about the next wave of western sanctions.
The move allows Abramovich to retain ownership of the club amid heavy scrutiny of ultra-rich oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, it means he relinquishes any control over club matters.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has brought huge attention to the links between Russia and the world of sport.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire transformed Chelsea into one of the most powerful teams in global football, twice winning the Uefa Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious club tournament, after acquiring the club in 2003.
“During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is to ensure 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, ”Abramovich said.
“I have always made decisions with the club’s best interest at heart,” he said.
His ownership of the team has turned Abramovich into a household name in English football and beyond.