Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich said on Wednesday he had made the “incredibly difficult” decision to sell the Premier League club, pledging that proceeds would go to victims of the war in Ukraine.
The billionaire believes it is in the “best interest” of the Champions League holders if he parts ways with the club he has transformed since he bought it in 2003.
“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart,” Abramovich said in a statement.
It is a seismic moment for English football after nearly two decades during which Abramovich’s team have consistently challenged for the sport’s top honours.
But the 55-year-old’s reign will come to an end in the fall-out from Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
Bu the Chelsea owner’s concern about potential seizing of assets is understood to have sparked his move to off-load the Blues.
Wyss, 86, told Swiss newspaper Blick he had been offered the chance to buy the London club because Abramovich wanted “to get rid of Chelsea quickly” before potential political sanctions.
– Privilege of a lifetime’
Abramovich, who made a rare appearance to watch Chelsea win the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last month, has pledged to donate any net proceeds from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
“I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.
“The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
He announced the impending sale less than an hour before Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Championship side Luton, which the Blues won 3-2.
“I think every decision he (Abramovich) takes is the right decision, it is his choice, his club, it is not on me to comment,” he told the BBC.
Abramovich said he hopes to make one more visit to Stamford Bridge to say goodbye before the curtain falls on his reign.
He added: “It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”