Roman Abramovich’s plan to use the sale of Chelsea to donate funds to victims of the war in Ukraine is not solely intended for Ukrainians, raising the prospect of money going to Russian soldiers or to their families.
Abramovich confirmed on Wednesday that he wants to sell Chelsea and the Russian oligarch said that all net proceeds – understood to be the money from any sale minus legal fees – would be used “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine”. The phrasing left open the possibility of the money not being entirely reserved for Ukrainians hurt, bereaved or otherwise affected by the Russian invasion of their country.
The Guardian sought to clarify that statement by asking sources close to the process whether there is a chance that the charitable fund could be used to help Russian soldiers hurt in the war or to the families of Russian soldiers. A key figure explained that the fund is intended for all victims of the war and will not be connected to origin. Further details were not offered, with Abramovich’s team working with charitable groups to work out how best to proceed.
It remains to be seen how much money from any sale of Chelsea will go into the fund. It is unclear how the net proceeds will be deducted from any transaction. Neither Chelsea nor Abramovich’s spokesperson responded to a question about the process regarding the net proceeds.
Abramovich is said to want close to £4bn for Chelsea and has said that he will not call in the £1.5bn of loans he has given the club since buying them in 2003. Financial experts have predicted that interested parties are unlikely to want to pay more than £2bn.
The situation at Chelsea has moved at dramatic speed. Abramovich has been under growing scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and he has bowed to growing political pressure to call time on his ownership. The 55-year-old’s announcement that the club is for sale came after the latest call in parliament for him to face sanctions from the UK government. He has denied he has done anything to merit being sanctioned.