Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich announced on Saturday that he is giving direct control of the club to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation. The news comes only a few days later Russia’s invasion of Ukraine The 55-year-old Russian billionaire owner finds himself at the center of the debate about State influence in London Especially.
“During my nearly 20 years of ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always looked to my role as a goalkeeper, whose mission is to ensure 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 taken Always making decisions with the club’s best interest at heart.I remain committed to these values, which is why today I give the Trustees of the Chelsea Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.
“I think they are currently in the best position to look after the interests of the club, the players, the staff and the fans.”
With the League Cup final on the horizon Sunday where Chelsea will face Liverpool This is a shock before an important match. But since Abramovich’s ownership of the club could be called into question in the event of tougher sanctions being imposed on Russia, these are uncertain times for the club. The surprising statement from their owner is certainly motivated by the unknown of the financial landscape he now finds himself in.
Along with American Bruce Buck as club president, the trustees now in the club’s oversight include: John Devine, Chelsea Women’s Manager Emma Hayes, Piara Bower, Paul Ramos and Sir Huggy Robinson. At the moment Chelsea is not for sale and Abramovich still holds the title deed, but it is clear that things look fluid and could change at any moment with what is happening in his homeland. It remains to be seen if this is a temporary or permanent management once the dominoes fall.
In the current climate, there are few obvious valuables regarding Russia. This is especially true in matters relating to its richest magnates and their origins outside the confines of their homes. The answers about what Abramovich really meant in his statement were scanty on the ground. The Chelsea Supporters Fund says they are “seeking urgent clarification as to what this statement means for the operation of Chelsea FC.”
All that can be said for certain about Abramovich and Chelsea is that he still owns the Premier League club.
The agency does not change that. Abramovich still owns Chelsea through Fordstam. In fact, the technical aspects of this new arrangement are unclear to legal experts. Perhaps that is the point.
said Stuart Hatcher, a partner at Foresters. “It seems to me that it is something that makes it seem like something has happened…but what happened is not really clear.
“The main question would be: Will Fordstam stop being someone with significant control? You can either transfer the shares or, via a power of attorney, transfer control of the shares to the organization and have no control?”
The Companies House still states that Fordstam is the only active person with a significant amount of control. There was no indication that Chelsea were planning to change that – with the possible exception of FA approval, that could be done relatively quickly – nor that Abramovich would be looking to sell the club.
It should be noted that Fordstam is also the principal creditor of Stamford Bridge with a $2 billion loan on Chelsea’s books “provided by the ultimate controlling party, Mr. R Abramovich”. Hatcher suggests that this alone could make him a person of great control even if he transferred ownership to the trustees.
Why do you do this then? He offers some semblance of distance between Abramovich and the club whose main focus should now be Sunday’s UEFA Cup final. Thomas Tuchel admitted on Friday that events far from the football field affect him and his players. Tochel wants his players to be allowed to “be apolitical, play sports and focus on sports”.
In the short term, this declaration will not change that; Who’s betting that the first question in his post-match press conference is about his ultimate boss, whatever the outcome?
Ultimately, however, Abramovich’s move away from a club he appears to love so dearly may keep the focus on football.
More important, however, is what will happen if the British government chooses to punish Abramovich. Notably, his statement did not include any direct reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine or his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Chris Bryant, Labor MP and chair of the All-Parliamentary Group on Russia, called on him and Alisher Usmanov, who has close ties to Everton, to do just that. “Otherwise, we would conclude that they are still in trouble for Putin,” Bryant said.
It’s not entirely clear that Chelsea will not be treated as an Abramovich asset, for the reasons listed above. It is also not clear what the penalties are. He can find his assets frozen but a more aggressive approach may result in his assets being confiscated.
What this administration might succeed in doing is muddy the waters around Chelsea and Abramovich, preventing them from contaminating them as pressure grows on Western lawmakers to take action against Russian elites. It is too early to say whether it will work.