Roman Abramovich’s attempt to shift the “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the Premier League club’s foundation has sparked the trustees to report the move to the British body overseeing charities.
The unexpected announcement from the Chelsea owner, which lacked full clarity, was issued on Saturday following calls for him to be targeted by British sanctions regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to sell the club.
The Charity Commission, which regulates the Chelsea Foundation, has received a “serious incident report” from its trustees amid concerns about how Abramovich’s plan can be enacted.
The foundation’s chairman is Bruce Buck, who has also chaired Chelsea for most of the 19 years the Russian oligarch has owned the west London club. Beyond women’s team manager Emma Hayes and director of finance Paul Ramos, the trustees with more separation from the club are British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson, lawyer John Devine and anti-discrimination leader Piara Powar, the executive director of the FARE network.
The Charity Commission is seeking further information from them about the running of the club and the foundation.
“We have contacted the charity seeking information,” the commission said, “and, in line with our guidance, the charity has also made a report to the commission. We cannot comment further at this time.”
Abramovich has provided no indication that he is going to sell Chelsea, nor what exactly it means to be giving “stewardship and care” of the club to trustees who he said are “in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans.”
The trustees have not publicly accepted Abramovich’s plan. Chelsea itself have also issued no comment, beyond remarks from manager Thomas Tuchel on Sunday that indicated little difference to the running of the club led by director Marina Granovskaia, a long-standing associate of Abramovich, and technical director Petr Cech, the former goalkeeper.
Tuchel was left to face more questions on the subject at a Tuesday news conference to preview the club’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Luton.
Asked about what he could tell supporters about the future of Chelsea’s ownership, Tuchel said: “I am not so sure if I am the person to give the message to the fans, anything else but sporting [ones].
“We try to be calm here and we are calm in the centre of a storm, or of some noise around us that we cannot control and we are also not responsible for it. In the end, it is best to stay calm and focus on what we love and what we do. This is sports and I think we have a right to focus on sports. The players have a right to be focused on it. This is what we can tell the fans and I think this is what the fans saw on Sunday [at the Carabao Cup Final against Liverpool].”
Facing further questions about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Tuchel continued to denounce the situation before eventually opting not to speak further on the subject, interrupting a question about Abramovich’s possible influence in the region by saying: “Listen, you have to stop, I’m not a politician. You have to stop, honestly. I can only repeat it 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.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was challenged about Abramovich during a visit to Poland on Tuesday.
“You are talking about more sanctions prime minister, but Roman Abramovich is not sanctioned, he’s in London, his children are not in the bombardments, his children are there in London.” executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, a Ukrainian civil society organization, Daria Kaleniuk said.
There was no specific response by Johnson, but we are betting that he has a directive he has to follow.
Abramovich has yet to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching the invasion of Ukraine.
“Every right thinking person should denounce what Putin has done,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said when asked about Abramovich.