Abramovich Transfers Chelsea Ownership to Charitable Foundation as Russian Assets in UK Sanctioned

© REUTERS / John SibleyChelsea owner Roman Abramovich
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.02.2022
Despite the sanctions imposed on Russia and its businessmen by the UK over the special military operation in Ukraine, no new restrictions were imposed on Abramovich personally this week.
According to an official statement released on Saturday, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has opted to transfer ownership of the Premier League's Chelsea FC to the trustees of the same-named charitable foundation.
Abramovich's statement was published by the club's management on its social media and website.
"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. I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC," the businessman said.
The club's owner added that he believes the new management is "in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans."
It remains unclear, however, whether the Russian billionaire is going to sell the club, of which he is the majority owner.
According to Saturday's report by the Times, if the UK government imposes sanctions against Abramovich, the club may go out of business. The club, which Abramovich acquired for about $190 million in 2003, and which now costs about $3.2 billion, owes him a stunning $2 billion.
One of the most significant attacks on Abramovich took place earlier this week, following the start of the military operation in Ukraine, when the Labour party's Chris Bryant told the House of Commons that Abramovich "should no longer be able to own a club in this country," adding that the UK "should be looking at seizing some of his assets, including his £152 million ($200 million) home."
In the meantime, Forbes reported that Chelsea's parent company, Fordstam Ltd, has confirmed a $2 billion loan "provided by the ultimate controlling party, Mr. R Abramovich." And after Chelsea won the Champions League trophy in June 2021, Abramovich reportedly lent the team another $26 million over the past year.
Since 2003, Abramovich has turned the London club into one of Europe's most successful football ventures. After the arrival of the Russian businessman, Chelsea won the championship and the FA Cup five times, and twice became the winner of the Champions League and the Europa League.
Abramovich is ranked 12th in the list of the richest people in Russia according to the local edition of Forbes. His fortune is currently estimated at $14.5 billion.
On Friday, Bloomberg reported that a group of US investors plans to buy a controlling stake in Chelsea from Abramovich in the near future. The source of the outlet noted that the success of the deal could be facilitated by the sanctions that the United States and the United Kingdom announced against Russia and a number of large Russian companies due to the events in Ukraine.
Russia announced the beginning of a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics requested support in the face of attacks from the Ukrainian army, which intensified the shelling of Donbas in the days leading up to the operation. Russian President Putin previously called the events in Donbas "genocide" of the Russian-speaking population by Kiev.
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