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Chelsea soccer club up for sale as the clamor for sanctions grows

INTERNATIONAL: Russian businessman Roman Abramovich said on Wednesday he would sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after buying it and setting the team on a path to sporting glory, and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.

Amid growing calls for Abramovich to be hit by sanctions after Russia's invasion of its neighbor, the metals magnate said in a statement that a sale was in the best interests of the reigning European and world soccer champions.

"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," he said.

Abramovich said he would not ask for loans he has made to the Premier League club - reported to total 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion) - to be repaid to him and the sale would not be fast-tracked.

He has told his aides to set up a charitable foundation that would receive all net proceeds from the sale.

"The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine," Abramovich said in a statement.

"This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery."

Swiss business tycoon Hansjoerg Wyss told a newspaper that he was considering buying Chelsea from Abramovich who over the weekend said he was stepping back from running the club but made no mention of any plans to change its ownership.

"Abramovich is currently trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly now. I, along with three other people, received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich," Blick quoted Wyss as saying in an interview published on Wednesday.

Abramovich bought the West London club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds and his investment contributed hugely to the most successful era in the team's history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and the Champions League twice.

His purchase of the club helped transform the landscape of English football with Chelsea breaking the stranglehold of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool.

They beat Brazilian side Palmeiras last month to become FIFA Club World Cup champions for the first time, having defeated Manchester City to become European champions last season.

"A seismic moment" was how BBC presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker described the announcement ahead of coverage of Chelsea's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Luton Town.

Chelsea fans at Kenilworth Road chanted the Russian's name before kickoff.

Abramovich said the decision to sell had been incredibly difficult.

"I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person," he said.

Abramovich turned his back on life in London in 2018 when the British government delayed renewing his visa following the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent in England, which it blamed on Moscow.

"It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements," he said.

"Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart."



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