Roman Abramovich is reportedly going to be listening to offers for Chelsea Football Club for the first time since he took over in 2003.
The Russian club owner, oligarch, businessman, and politician stepped down from his duties as an active leader of the club last week following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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 ensuring 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,” said Abramovich in a statement released by Chelsea last week. “That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.”
Roman Abramovich Takes a Step Back
Abramovich was under the microscope from the first sign of Russian aggression for his ties to Vladimir Putin, public enemy number one for many in Europe and across the world. Abramovich felt that his history with the Russian President could cloud the club and thus interfere with their performances, which is why he opted to step down from his active position.
This announcement came shortly after the United Kingdom’s government banned Abramovich from living in England, again for his relationship with Putin.
Chelsea manager and German native Thomas Tuchel became incensed in a media session during a fifth-round FA Cup preview against Luton Town Tuesday morning when reporters continued to ask him his thoughts about the Russian invasion.
“You have to stop [asking me these questions], honestly; I can only repeat it, and I even feel bad to repeat it, because I never experienced war,” said Tuchel. “So, even to talk about it, I am very privileged; I sit here in peace; I do the very best I can, but you have to stop asking me these questions.”
Could Chelsea Be on the Market?
Chris Bryant, a Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) in the UK, told the House of Commons last week that the Home Office had identified Abramovich as having connections within Russia and that he will continue to call for sanctions to be placed against the Russian club owner.
Abramovich’s current stance is that he does not want to sell Chelsea and has only taken a step back to not cause a distraction. His name was also one amongst a few Russian leaders that were reported to be heading peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
Despite Abramovich’s intent to remain in charge of Chelsea, there is a line of American investors queuing with bids in mind. Rumors are circulating that the Russian could listen to offers for the club, even if he does not want to let go of the reins.
Tuchel has insisted that his team has not been effected by the controversy hanging over his boss.
“We are calm in the centre of a storm or of some noise around us that we cannot control; and we are also not responsible for it, said Tuchel. “It’s best to stay calm, focus on what we love and what we do.”
The Russian has loaned roughly $2 billion to CFC since he took over in 2003 and has been rewarded with trophies in the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Europa League, and Club World Cup, among others.
Chelsea would be in a state of limbo if the UK opts to freeze Abramovich’s assets— their owner would not be able to sell the club, nor would he be able to inject cash into it.
The Russian owner has been known for his willingness to invest in the squad, ruthless player negotiations, short-leashed managers, and loyalty to his club.
The Blues, meanwhile, are rearing to play Luton on Wednesday in the FA Cup and Burnley on Saturday in the Premier League, where they are third in the table.