Roman Abramovich makes shock Chelsea statement as he relinquishes 'stewardship' of club but will remain as owner

Roman Abramovich FC ChelseaGetty Images

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has announced that he will be handing the day-to-day running of the club to trustees in a shock statement released on February 26.

The Russian national has been at the helm at Stamford Bridge for almost 20 years, but his ties to his home country have come under scrutiny amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine this week.

And while he will be remaining as the club's owner, Abramovich will be less hands-on after "giving the trustees of Chelsea's charitable foundation the stewardship and care" of the Blues.

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What's been said?

"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," Abramovich explained in a statement released on Chelsea's official club website.

"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."

What does Abramovich's statement mean?

GOAL's Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella says: "The statement released through Chelsea's website is vague and leaves open a lot of questions.

"Effectively, not a lot has changed with Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech still running the football parts of the club and the rest of the board guiding decisions in other areas.

"The trustees will step in and resolve any issues that the owner Roman Abramovich normally would."

"It leaves it open that Abramovich can return to Stamford Bridge in the future. However, it is mostly about disassociating himself from the Blues as much as he can in the meantime.

"It remains to be seen if this is enough to end the club's association with Abramovich in the eyes of the UK government, who could move to sanction the club's owner in the event of further escalation of violence from Russia's president Vladimir Putin."

The bigger picture

The 55-year-old businessman first entered English football in 2003, when he took over Chelsea from previous owner Ken Bates.

Under his stewardship, the Blues have become one of the Premier League and Europe's elite clubs, winning five league titles and twice lifting the Champions League, in 2012-13 and 2020-21.

It remains unclear exactly how Abramovich will be involved with Chelsea after Saturday's stunning announcement, which comes on the eve of the club's Carabao Cup final with Liverpool.

He will, however, be less involved with the running of the club, having announced that the "stewardship and care" will rest with the trustees of the Blues' charitable foundation.

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