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Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has announced he will hand over the 'stewardship and care' of the club to trustees of its charitable foundation.
The Russian billionaire, who took over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, said the trustees were in 'the best position' to look after the club’s interests.
Abramovich said in a statement that the move would be in the best interests of the club, players, staff and fans.
The statement said: "During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities.
"I have always taken decisions with the club's best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea's charitable foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.
"I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans."
Abramovich has been facing pressure to step down as owner in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this week.
The matter was discussed in the House of Commons on Thursday 24 February, when MP Chris Bryant said Abramovich should no longer be able to own the club.
The Labour former minister made the demand as he asked questions about the UK Government’s response to the crisis in Ukraine, saying: “I have got hold of a leaked document from 2019 from the Home Office which says in relation to Mr Abramovich – ‘As part of HMG’s Russia strategy aimed at targeting illicit finance and malign activity, Abramovich remains of interest to HMG due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices’.
“‘An example of this is Abramovich admitting in court proceedings that he paid for political influence.
“Therefore HMG is focused on ensuring individuals linked to illicit finance and malign activity are unable to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal, including immigration powers to prevent this’.
“That is nearly three years ago and yet remarkably little has been done in relation.
“Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?
“Surely we should be looking at seizing some of his assets including his £152 million home?
“And making sure that other people who have had Tier 1 Visas like this are not engaged in malign activity?”
Commons Leader Mark Spencer replied: “He will know under the sanctions passed in the House this week there is the opportunity for the Government to take very strong action against high-profile Russian individuals who are of concern.
“He will be aware that the Home Secretary will be at this despatch box next Monday for Home Office questions and I am sure he will be able to challenge her directly.”
Abramovich is also the largest stakeholder in London-listed Russian-focused mining company Evraz, with a stake of 29 percent.
It was one of the hardest-hit companies on the FTSE 100 on Thursday, falling nearly 30 percent at points.
The drop has seen the businessman’s paper fortune drop by nearly £300 million as a result, while shares in the company have fallen 71 percent so far this year.
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