Chelsea’s owner of nearly 19 years, Roman Abramovich, who is close to Vladimir Putin, has announced that he is distancing himself from the London club. In fact, he actually did it several years ago.
English football learned to live with Roman Abramovich, who arrived like a foreigner in the summer of 2003 when he bought Chelsea and put them on debt with the goal of making them one of the best clubs on the continent. At that time, the Russian went to Great Britain with a well-equipped bank account with the aim of increasing his wealth. Vladimir Putin has already been elected President of Russia for a few years … and strong support for Abramovich.
“He’s one of the oligarchs who pledged allegiance to Putin in exchange for being able to keep their wealth,” explains RMC Sport Pascal Boniface, founder of the Institute for International Relations and Strategy. The methods by which Abramovich raised billions of dollars are sometimes “doubtful” according to Pascal Boniface, and are based in particular on the privatization of large Russian companies in the hydrocarbon sector. But with Putin’s support, there is no doubt.
Abramovich even became governor of Chukuta Province, in northeastern Russia, a few months after Putin was first elected as president. His works and influence are increasing. Even London, so. In the British capital, the Russian, whose current fortune Forbes estimates at more than 12 billion euros, has delusions of grandeur. Long before financial fair play, he invested lavishly in Chelsea FC. With some great shots but also some big bugs. Between 2003 and 2011, he spent around 150 million euros, a colossal amount in football at the time, to recruit strikers who would not mark the history of the Blues.
Shevchenko, the Ukrainian at Chelsea
There Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Fernando Torres and Ukrainian Andrei Shevchenko, Ballon d’Or 2004 were recruited for around €43 million in 2006. But these failures didn’t stop Chelsea from gaining momentum, until they became England champions in 2005 and 2006. For many years Then we see Abramovich in the stands of Stamford Bridge, paying attention to the development of his club, who wants to see victory in the Champions League, the supreme title.
The trophy would be well overdue but end up arriving for the first time in 2012. Nearly ten years after Roman Abramovich arrived. No one doubted the greatness of Chelsea, the fourth most successful team in the Kingdom after Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. However, little by little, the oligarch let go. Marina Granovska, whom he knew in the 1990s when he recruited her into his company Sibneft, is rising in rank. She became more and more involved in club affairs and established herself as a key figure in the blues.
Soon this would become a blessing for Abramovich. In 2018, the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former KGB agent and double agent of the British services, greatly strained relations between Russia and the UK. Roman Abramovich’s visa was not renewed and he was forced to leave the territory. Then he sought refuge in Israel and obtained citizenship there. Later, he even received a Portuguese passport. But he comes less and more to London, where he is clearly not welcome. For several months, he did not attend any Blues game, although he was used to being on the field every week.
far from london
Marina Granovska, who has dual Russian-Canadian citizenship, then runs the club on a daily basis, responsible for transfers and contracts. Abramovich forcibly withdraws for the first time. He did so for the second time on Saturday, February 26, in a very short press release posted on the Blues website. He claims to have entrusted the Chelsea Foundation’s board of directors with running the club, “in the interest of the club”, without that changing much as he has already been less involved on a day-to-day basis since 2018.
It is now up to the British government to decide whether it wants to punish Russian investors based in the UK more harshly. Pascal Boniface explains: “It is a decision that London can make, the fact of taking over their property, which Chelsea FC will have a very big impact on.” So Roman Abramovich is currently keeping a low profile and keeping his distance. For once, he did not control everything and his relations with Putin no longer called for his work.