Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has given trustees of the club’s charitable foundation stewardship of the Premier League club, a statement said on Saturday. This comes after escalating violence in Ukraine, which has triggered a wealth of sanctions from the UK against Russia.
Abramovich’s statement read: “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.
“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans.”
Fans on social media have praised Abramovich for doing the “right thing” by Chelsea, however, some believe there is a cunning reason behind the decision.
Twitter user @CFC_Willl wrote: “Roman Abramovich statement – what it means…
“Basically it’s a strategy from Roman so that the British government don’t attempt to punish him by using the club against him hence why he’s ‘stepped down’ and not responsible for the club at the moment. This is good for the club.”
Another tweeting under the handle @louisellis1905 said: “What Roman has done is stupidly clever.
“Can’t seize the club from a Charity so if the UK decide to sanction him the clubs 100% protected”.
The Chelsea FC Foundation trustees include John Devine, Paul Ramos, Piara Powar, Emma Hayes, Sir Hugh Robertson and Bruce Buck.
Abramovich is not selling the club, instead, passing over “stewardship” however it is not clear exactly what that means.
The statement comes after reports any sanctions placed against Abramovich would be disastrous for Chelsea.
A report in The Times said if the Russian was fined, it could push him to ask Chelsea to pay him back £1.5billion it owes him.
“But I suspect this government will not want to upset football fans as we have a populist government. I suspect Chelsea’s legal team would be going through all the options.”
While some have praised Abramovich for his decision, others have voiced their anger at the situation.
Micah Richards told Sky Sports: “We need more than that don’t we.
“After the last couple of days and just say you’re handing it over to charity, I think it’s poor.
“There’s so many questions to be asked, to come out with a statement just like that. What does it even mean?
“It’s almost written in code, we don’t want to tell you what’s happening, here you go read this and pick the bones and figure out what it means.”
Abramovich has a net worth of more than $9.6bn (£7.16bn) according to the Forbes rich list.
He has been the owner of Chelsea since 2003 and during his tenure, he has seen years of success for the west London club.
Chelsea has taken five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions League crowns, and two Europa League trophies during Abramovich’s ownership.
Chelsea are due to face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Sunday.