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Roman Abramovich puts Chelsea up for sale with money set to go to victims of Ukraine war
2 March 2022, 18:30 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 19:03
Roman Abramovich has confirmed his decision to sell Chelsea football club, amid Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine.
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The Russian-Israeli billionaire has owned the Blues since 2003 and helped steer the Stamford Bridge club to 19 major trophies.
But the 55-year-old's glittering reign in west London is close to an end, with a consortium of billionaires already making their interest in a deal public.
Abramovich has pledged to donate any net proceeds from the club's sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the billionaire said: "I would like to address the speculation in media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC.
"As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart.
"In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the Club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.
"The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process.
"I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club. Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated.
"The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.
"Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the club.
"I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart."
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and USA investor Todd Boehly are understood to be two of the parties joining forces and now preparing a bid for the Blues.
The move to sell the premier league club comes after Sir Keir Starmer called on the government to introduce sanctions on the Oligarch during t Prime Minister's Questions.
The Labour leader said: "We must stand up to Putin and those who prop up his regime.
"Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea Football Club and various other high-value assets in the United Kingdom.
"He's a person of interest to the Home Office because of his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices.
"Last week, the prime minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions. He later corrected the record to say that he isn't. Well, why on earth isn't he?"
This story is being updated.