Chelsea chairman: Abramovich 'absolutely not' planning to sell club

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has not been to a home match since early 2018. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez/Livepic

Roman Abramovich is “absolutely not” planning to sell Chelsea and has already rejected “bargain” bids, according to Bruce Buck, the chairman of the football club.

Though the Russian billionaire has not been to a home match since early 2018 — when the UK government delayed the renewal of his visa — he remains “intimately involved” in the running of the club, Buck told the Guardian.

Buck rejected suggestions that Abramovich was considering a sale of the Fulham-based club.

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“So far as I know, absolutely not; to the contrary. I have never heard a word from Mr Abramovich: ‘Let’s get this ready for a sale,’ or something,” he said.

The delay in renewing Abramovich’s visa was reportedly related to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.

Abramovich withdrew his visa application soon after the delay, and the club mothballed the long-planned £1bn redevelopment of its Stamford Bridge stadium, citing an “unfavourable investment climate”.

“Because of the political situation, there are people who think they might want to buy Chelsea Football Club at a bargain,” Buck said. “We do get inquiries and we really have nothing to say to these people.”

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Buck told the Guardian that Abramovich was still “intimately involved” in discussions about player contracts and talks to Chelsea board member Marina Granovskaia “several times a day, every day”.

Noting it was “hard to disprove” the impression that the club had been put on hold considering Abramovich’s absence and the delay to the Stamford Bridge redevelopment, Buck suggested that people pay attention to the next transfer window.

Chelsea is unable to make new signings until February 2020, after FIFA found it guilty of breaching transfer regulations. It is appealing the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and hopes to have it lifted ahead of the January transfer window.