As a club that has long been referred to as ‘Russian owned’, Chelsea fans are used to shouts about oligarchs. However, despite the reputation that some fans really could not care less about, the association with Russia has always felt uneasy to some. Given that owner Roman Abramovich has such a long and often comfortable relationship with the top names in Russian politics, though, it is impossible to avoid. For years, Russia was simply the ‘big bad’ of Europe, always used as the threatening nation to the East.
Now that Russia has begun a conflict in Ukraine, though, the tongues of the world have become that bit sharper. Now, what was often seen as ‘lucking out’ that Chelsea were bought by such wealth is now turning into outright condemnation. With Abramovich and other major Russian net worth holders being sanctioned, though, reports suggest that the Russian-Israeli is ready to move on from Chelsea entirely.
The first reports came after the statement that Abramovich had offered the running of the club to its charitable foundations. This has not yet been accepted. However, new reports have emerged early this week that Abramovich has put the club up for sale. Without a sale, Chelsea are put at risk of how they can be properly run and maintained. Some early suggestions that issues as serious as administration could linger in the medium-term future of the club is a solution is not found.
Around £4bn is expected to be the asking price for one of the most successful and powerful clubs of the modern era. Indeed, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss even claims that he was approached to make an offer on the West London giants. For now, though, these are simply reports.
Will Chelsea be sold?
It all depends on what happens in Ukraine. If a quick resolution can be found, then Russia could find itself returning to some form of normalcy with the rest of the world. However, any kind of drag-on would mean it will become nigh-impossible for major Russian net worth holders to keep their assets. It would also mean that Abramovich would have to quickly find a buyer.
Despite making the club what it is today, there has always been an air of finality around the Abramovich era. This is not a man, many believe, who wants to pass Chelsea down the family dynasty. The club – which has a loan worth in excess of £1bn to the Russian – has been run in a more self-sustainable way for several years now. Therefore, the Blues are more of an attractive prospect to other buyers than clubs who have been propped up by a sugar daddy.
Two decades worth of deals, arrangements, and contracts means that Chelsea are among the most well-off clubs in the world. This could meant that the clubs relative level of success in recent decades could continue even without the backing of Abramovich.
Should the sale reports turn out to be true, though, it would mark an incredible change in how Chelsea Football Club is run, perceived, and managed.