Chelsea under scrutiny from Charity Commission over Roman Abramovich move

Jamie Spencer
Roman Abramovich wants to hand control of Chelsea to the club's charitable foundation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Roman Abramovich wants to hand control of Chelsea to the club's charitable foundation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Chelsea are under pressure from the Charity Commission to prove that Roman Abramovich handing control of the club to the trustees of its charitable Foundation is not a breach of its charitable status.

Chelsea released an unexpected statement from Abramovich on Saturday evening confirming his decision to hand the ‘stewardship’ of the club to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation. He has remained owner but will no longer have an active role - he also remains eligible to fund the club as long as he faces no personal economic sanctions.

The day to day running of the Blues' football operations will not change, but Abramovich’s statement was criticised as there was no mention of the context surrounding the situation, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his alleged links to Vladimir Putin.

Chelsea released a follow up statement the next day pledging support to Ukraine and its people, but again making no reference to the Russian invasion.

The handing over of Chelsea to the Chelsea Foundation, which is believed to have caught the charity’s trustees by surprise and is reported to have left several considering their position, is now under scrutiny as the Charity Commission attempts to unpick exactly what it means.

The Daily Mail has reported that Chelsea were contacted by the commission on Monday and asked for details of Abramovich’s proposal. The Blues will need to explain how the club and the foundation will remain separate if the same group of people are responsible for both.

As things stand, the trustees have not accepted stewardship of the club and it could yet be that several end up resigning their position as a result.

The trustees are Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, women’s team boss Emma Hayes, Chelsea director of finance Paul Ramos, anti-discrimination group director Piara Powar, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, British Olympic Association chairman Sir Hugh Robertson and lawyer John Devine.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that at least two trustees have raised concerns over a conflict of interests. Chelsea could replace any trustees that step down, continue with a smaller group or come up with a new plan altogether depending on how upcoming meetings unfold.

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