exit plan | 

Roman Abramovich rumoured to be considering selling Chelsea amid Ukraine crisis

Could the Ukraine crisis end Abramovich's ownership of Chelsea?

Chelsea's debt to Roman Abramovich is €1.8bn

Matt LawTelegraph Media Group Limited

Roman Abramovich will receive bids to sell Chelsea this week with at least three parties circling the Stamford Bridge club in the belief the Russian billionaire, for the first time, will consider a sale.

Offers are being prepared to reach Abramovich by the end of the week with the threat of sanctions hanging over Chelsea’s owner, who has faced calls to have his assets frozen and seized, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea have previously insisted the club is not for sale, but the mood from the outside at least is changing and there is a feeling that Abramovich could be left with no other option, with his resolve to hang on to the club to be tested.

There have also been claims that Abramovich is preparing to sell his mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens.

One big potential hurdle to the sale of Chelsea would be if Abramovich is sanctioned before the end of the week, as interested parties would then have to wait for clarity over whether or not they could trade with the 55-year-old or his associates.

Abramovich has previously turned down offers worth €2.6bn for Chelsea, while the club’s debt to him is €1.8bn which he would almost certainly expect to be covered.

Bidders have been emboldened by Abramovich’s move to try to hand the day-to-day running of Chelsea to the board of trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.

Chelsea insisted the intended change was Abramovich’s attempt to put some distance between himself and the club, but interested parties saw it as the first move towards countenancing a sale and have not been put off by claims of him attempting to help peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel was yesterday asked about Abramovich’s position and he said: “I have to say that’s a bit too much for me to answer. I’m not aware of any details, and I’m not aware of the whole situation.

“We all agree there are situations much, much more important than football, this will never change. But the role of Mr Abramovich is not for me to comment on, because I simply don’t know enough about it.”

Pushed by broadcasters to discuss the war in Ukraine and Abramovich’s possible involvement in talks, Tuchel was clearly rattled: “Listen, listen, listen – you have to stop. I am not a politician. You have to stop, honestly. I can only repeat [it’s horrible].”

The Chelsea boss added: “And I even feel bad to repeat it because I never experienced war. So even to talk about it I feel bad because I am very privileged. I sit here in peace and I do the best I can, but you have to stop asking me these questions. I have no answers for you.”

Abramovich’s hand-over plan to the group of six trustees is already in danger of descending into chaos with individuals considering quitting and the Charity Commission launching an inquiry.

Chelsea are already braced for the fact that trustees may need to be replaced or that the plan may need a complete re-think, with more talks taking place this week. Trustees are believed to want the inclusion of an indemnity insurance policy to ensure they are not liable for any financial ramifications the club may suffer while they are in charge.

Tuchel, whose team face Luton Town in the FA Cup tonight, reiterated the fact that he does not expect Abramovich’s decision to relinquish the running of Chelsea, while, for now at least, still being owner, to impact him.

“I think that for me as a coach and in charge of the first team that decision does not change too much the daily business,” said Tuchel. “Because I’m in daily exchange with Petr Cech and very regular exchange with Marina Granovskaia about how to improve the first team. And this will not stop because they stay in charge [of football]. So on a daily basis it will not change too much for me.”

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