Roman Abramovich’s shocking announcement on Saturday, relinquishing the “stewardship and care” of the club and handing it over to the Chelsea Foundation was so surprising that not even those affected directly really knew what was happening.
The Chelsea owner — and still Chelsea owner — clearly wanted to get ahead of any further news or developments with his decision, claimed to be made in the interest and protection of the club (in terms of any direct action and public perception), though likely also in his own interest and protection on some level from the various challenges he may be facing personally.
Less than a day later, Chelsea released an official statement in support of Ukraine, which was perfunctory at best, inadequate at worst, and certainly quite short, but was still more of an official statement than any other Premier League club have done thus far — a low bar to clear for whatever any such things may be worth, which probably isn’t a lot to begin with in the grand scheme of things. Both Chelsea and Liverpool joined in on a show of support for the nation Russia’s trying to subjugate ahead of the League Cup final as well.
“The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating. Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Chelsea’s lawyers have been hard at work trying to figure out how to actually transfer decision-making power and responsibility over to the Chelsea Foundation, who themselves are trying to figure out what this all means. Restructuring upper management is not exactly a straightforward task in any situation, but it’s especially complicated in this case.
As the Telegraph’s report details, concerns that need to be figured out and are thus currently being worked on include “whether running a football club as part of the foundation could be compatible with charity law, if some sort of new entity would therefore need to be created, who they would ultimately be answerable to and questions of liability over future decisions”. Pretty standard stuff, though usually something that gets codified in bylaws or at least gets figured out before being announced officially. Clearly, this is not a standard situation for anyone involved.
It’s unclear how long this all might take, and what eventual form it might take. Some of that might also depend on what happens to Abramovich personally and/or his assets in the UK, though for now every report agrees that Chelsea are not for sale.