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Russian owner Roman Abramovich relinquishes control of Chelsea

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP

Published Feb 26, 2022


London - Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich handed over control of Chelsea to trustees of its charitable foundation on Saturday as Premier League players showed their support for war-torn Ukraine.

ALSO READ: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich banned from UK residence due to links with Russian government

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Elsewhere on a dramatic day in the English top-flight, Christian Eriksen made an emotional return to football eight months after suffering a cardiac arrest and leaders Manchester City grabbed a late winner at Everton.

Abramovich's move, which overshadowed the action on the pitch, comes just days after Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, which has drawn international condemnation.

The 55-year-old, who has ploughed £1.5 billion into Chelsea since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2003, said in a statement on the club's website that he had always viewed his role as a "custodian of the club".

"I have always taken decisions with the club's best interest at heart," he said. "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.

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"I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans."

It is understood Abramovich took the decision in order to protect Chelsea from reputational damage as war rages in Ukraine.

ALSO READ: ’Time for talk is over ...’ Russia face blanket sports ban after Ukraine invasion

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Press reports said Abramovich would remain the owner of the club and was not looking to sell the European champions, who have thrived under his ownership.

The UK government on Friday ordered all assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov frozen over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Treasury issued a financial sanctions notice against the two men, adding them to a list of Russian oligarchs already targeted.

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Abramovich, whose team play Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, is not on the list.

Ukraine teammates Vitalii Mykolenko of Everton and Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko embraced before the late kick-off at Goodison Park, where both were substitutes.

Both teams sported the colours of the Ukraine flag before the match, with Zinchenko in tears as the crowd unveiled banners including one that read "We stand with Ukraine".

Teams from Everton and Manchester City lined up in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of their Premier League match. Picture: Peter Powell/Reuters

Phil Foden struck eight minutes from time as City escaped with a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Everton to open up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.