Roman Abramovich watching Chelsea in 2014. File source: Brian Minkoff-London Pixels via Wikipedia.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the cancellation of many planned sports events in Russia, discussion of Russian athletes’ comments on this, sponsorship cancellations with Russian companies, and much more. One particular dimension of it in the United Kingdom has been around potential sanctions against wealthy Russians who own teams, in particularly long-time (since 2003) Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson incorrectly suggested earlier in the week that Abramovich (seen above watching a Chelsea match in 2014) had already been hit by sanctions, but since then, several governmental and public figures have called for sanctions on Abramovich. And on Saturday, that led to an interesting move: Abramovich turning over control of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation trustees. Rob Harris of The Associated Press has more:

“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,” he said. “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.”

As Harris noted on Twitter, though, this may not mean a lot:

As David Dawkins and Justin Birnbaum noted at Forbes earlier, too, even sanctions against Abramovich may not lead to him losing all his money, as he has loaned Chelsea approximately $2 billion U.S. (and its estimated value is only $3.2 billion U.S.). But that could get very interesting if he does try to call in that debt. At any rate, it’s certainly notable for him to transfer “stewardship and care” of Chelsea, even if that winds up not being for long.

[The Associated Press; photo from Brian Minkoff-London Pixels via Wikipedia]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.