Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is believed to be open to selling the club amid the looming threat of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The oligarch is alleged to have close ties with Moscow and Russian president Vladimir Putin – who ordered troops into the neighbouring country last week – although his spokesperson has claimed that he has been contacted by Ukraine to help broker peace talks.
It was previously reported that Chelsea FC was not for sale despite Abramovich taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the club and attempting to hand over stewardship to the in-house charitable foundation.
However, The Telegraph report that the Russian-Israeli’s stance may be shifting amid calls for him to be sanctioned, with potential bidders encouraged by his decision to distance himself from the club – believing that he could be open to selling for the first time.
The handing over of Chelsea to the Chelsea Foundation is believed to have caught the charity’s trustees by surprise and is reported to have left several considering their position.
Abramovich is expected to field offers this week with at least three interested parties considering a purchase. It had previously been reported by Bloomberg that sports investors and private equity companies – including some from the US – have started to draw up plans for a potential takeover.
It is understood British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is among those interested, with the financier and industrialist exploring the possibility of buying a leading English football club.
A major stumbling block is the threat of sanctions from the UK government this week because the Chelsea owner might not be able to trade depending on what measures are imposed.
In the past Abramovich has rejected bids of £2.2bn for the west London club, with a similar offer certain to cover the club’s £1.51bn debt to him.