Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich abruptly handed over the Premier League club’s “stewardship and care” to its charity foundation trustees on Saturday. In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a member of the British Parliament demanded that the Russian oligarch hand up the club. Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since 2003, made no mention of the conflict in Ukraine in his speech, and, more importantly, he is not surrendering control of the club and can continue to give funds, if he is not sanctioned by the United Kingdom government. Abramovich has no plans to call in his loans to the team, according to ESPN sources.
“I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club during my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, 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,” he said. “I have always made judgments in the best interests of the Club.” These are the values to which I am still dedicated. That is why I am entrusting Chelsea FC’s leadership and care to the trustees of Chelsea’s charity Foundation today. I feel they are now in the best position to protect the club’s, players’, staff’s, and supporters’ interests.”
Following Russia’s invasion of its neighboring country, which drew global condemnation and penalties from world leaders, the conflict in Ukraine reached its third day on Saturday. In any case, Abramovich was not involved in the club’s day-to-day operations, which were handled by Marina Granovskaia, his close confidante and club director, in collaboration with Petr Cech, the club’s technical and performance adviser. He did, however, have ultimate say on major decisions such as player transfers and the future of individual head coaches, which he will now relinquish, according to ESPN sources.