Roman Abramovich has announced that he has stepped down from his role as an active owner of Chelsea, passing control of the club to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation.
The Russian billionaire had been under increasing pressure over alleged links to the president of his homeland, Vladimir Putin, following the military invasion of Ukraine.
While he has not formally resigned or confirmed any intention to sell the club he bought in 2003, Abramovich confirmed that he will no longer be controlling matters at Stamford Bridge.
“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,” he wrote in a statement.
“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.”
Chemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who distanced himself from rumours of he was planning to try and buy Chelsea in early 2020, has already been linked with a potential takeover.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that Chelsea insist the club is not for sale, while football operations remain in the hands of Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech, who are not among the trustees. The same report adds that the Blues are also claiming the move is an effort to protect the club from reputational and strategic damage rather than avoid potential sanctions.
The trustees now responsible for the club include chairman Bruce Buck, who heads the foundation, and women’s team manager Emma Hayes, as well as Piara Powar, Sebastian Coe, Paul Ramos, John Devine and Sir Hugh Robertson. Despite stepping back, Abramovich will remain Chelsea’s overall owner as long as sanctions are not brought against him and can still invest in the club