Roman Abramovich has denied that he wants his £1.5bn loan to Chelsea repaid and has pledged to donate proceeds from the sale of the club to charity.
The club was put up for sale by Abramovich in March, just before the UK government sanctioned him for his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich said he will not ask for his loans to Chelsea to be repaid and that the proceeds from the sale of the club will go to a charitable foundation for “all the victims of the war in Ukraine”.
After reports that the oligarch was seeking to recover the money he lent the club, the 55-year-old reiterated his commitment to donate the money from the sale to charity.
In a statement issued by Abramovich and Chelsea on Thursday night, a spokesman for the Russian said: “First of all, Mr. Abramovich’s intentions in relation to donating the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea to charity have not changed.
“Since the initial announcement, Mr. Abramovich’s team has identified high-level representatives from UN agencies and large global charities who have been tasked with forming a Foundation and establishing a plan for their activities. The lead independent expert has held talks with government representatives to present the initial structure and plans.
“Mr Abramovich has not been involved in this work and it has been managed independently by experts with years of experience working in humanitarian organisations.
“Secondly, Mr. Abramovich has not asked for any loans to be repaid to him, such suggestions are completely false, as are the suggestions that Mr. Abramovich increased the price of the Club at the last minute. As part of the objective of finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC, however, he encouraged each bidder throughout this process to commit to investing in the Club, including the Academy, the women’s team, the necessary refurbishment of the stadium and the maintenance of the work of the Chelsea Foundation”.
The consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly is the preferred bidder to buy Chelsea, but the UK government will not allow the sale to go through unless it is absolutely certain that Abramovich will not receive any of the proceeds.
The sale is handled by the Raine Group, an investment bank appointed by Abramovich, and he will have the final say on who buys the club.
Chelsea’s government license to operate expires on May 31 and they face the possibility of closing unless the club is sold or the license extended.
The Premier League meets on June 8 to constitute the new season, at which point Chelsea would need to have a license to be part of the next campaign.
The spokesperson added in the statement: “Following the sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since it was announced that the Club would be sold, the loan has also become subject to EU sanctions, requiring further approvals. This means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by the authorities. These funds are still destined for the Foundation. The Government is aware of these restrictions, as well as the legal implications.
“To be clear, Mr. Abramovich does not have access to or control of these funds and will not have access to or control of these funds after the sale. Despite the changed circumstances since his initial announcement, he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea F.C.” and make sure the proceeds go to good causes.
Analysis: Chelsea fans can feel relieved
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“Roman Abramovich does not speak officially very often and when he does, it is usually significant. This is a significant statement from his spokesman.
“During the sale process in recent weeks, there have been suggestions that he really wants that money back due to tax complications and the fact that he is sanctioned.
“It’s a really complicated situation, but he tried to set the record straight tonight. And he basically said in this statement: nothing has changed. He doesn’t want his money back, he sticks to his original position that the money is gone. “. after the club has been sold.
“He has talked about what is going to happen with the money. He has previously said that it will go to the victims of the war in Ukraine. In this statement, he said that his team has been working hard to establish a foundation and people from the UN are involved. and has also held talks with the UK government about what has been going on.
“The message you’re just trying to get across is: don’t believe everything you’re hearing or reading. I don’t think we can discount what we and other people have been reporting. The information we have is coming from people who are very close to the process of sale. Our information is still true. I’m not accusing Mr. Abramovich of not telling the truth. That’s how he sees it, but it’s a complicated process, different people are saying different things.
“I think it will calm some nerves where Chelsea fans are concerned. It is also addressing another key point. Many reports suggested that the goalposts have changed, that Abramovich had called for an additional £500m to be put on the table. Mr. Abramovich’s spokesman says he’s not asking for extra money, but goes on to say that he wants to make sure that the people buying the club commit funds to developing the club in the future, to invest in the men’s team, the women’s team, the stadium too.
“Again, I don’t think what we and other people were reporting was wrong. It’s just different interpretations. Mr. Abramovich is saying the rationale behind that.” [extra money being asked for] It’s because he wanted to make sure that Chelsea’s future was secure and that the people buying the club had enough money to look after it.”