By David Close, CNN
(CNN) — Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich on Wednesday announced his intention to sell Chelsea Football Club because it is “in the best interests of the club, the fans, the employees, and the sponsors and partners of the club”.
No timeline was provided, but Abramovich said the sale “will not be expedited but will follow due process.”
Last week, the billionaire said he had handed over the “stewardship” of the club to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
British MP Chris Bryant previously called for Abramovich to lose ownership of Chelsea after seeing a leaked UK government document in 2019 that said Abramovich was of interest because of his “ties to the Russian state and public association with corrupt activities and practices”. the MP said in a post on Twitter.
“Surely Mr. Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?” he added.
Abramovich himself has not been sanctioned by the UK, according to the sanctions list website.
The businessman claims that he is not an official Russian political figure.
During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, US President Joe Biden said: “Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have built billions of dollars on this violent regime, no more.
“The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to prosecute the crimes of Russian oligarchs. We are joining European allies in finding and seizing their yachts, luxury apartments, private jets. We come to you, ill-begotten gains.
In a statement Wednesday, Abramovich said net proceeds from the sale would be donated to a foundation set up to help those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I will not be requesting any loan repayments,” the statement said.
“It has never been about business or money for me, but pure passion for the game and the club. Additionally, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net profits from The sale will be donated.The foundation will benefit all victims of war in Ukraine, including providing essential funds to meet the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting long-term recovery work.
In April 2021, Forbes said Chelsea were worth $3.2 billion. Abramovich, who made his money in steel and investments, was tied for the 142nd richest person in the world with a net worth of $14.5 billion, the magazine estimated.
Before Abramovich’s announcement on the sale of the team, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss said he wanted to buy Chelsea.
In an interview with Blick, a Swiss newspaper, the 86-year-old admitted his interest in buying the Stamford Bridge club but only as part of a consortium.
Chelsea did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Wyss said he and three others received an offer to buy Chelsea from Abramovich, but there was no fixed selling price, according to Blick.
Wyss, who founded medical device company Synthes USA, was quoted in the interview as saying, “I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is asking way too much right now.”
Chelsea have won two Champions League trophies – including in 2021 – and five English Premier League trophies since Abramovich took over the club in 2003 after paying $233million.
Chelsea rallied to defeat Luton Town 3-2 in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.
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