Abramovich attacks ‘entirely false’ claims he asked Chelsea to repay £1.5bn loan

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Roman Abramovich has denounced “entirely false” claims that he has demanded repayment of the £1.5billion debt owed to him by Chelsea.

The Chelsea owner put the six-time English champion up for sale on March 2 just before he was sanctioned by the British government over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Oligar Abramovich, who has denied having close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has had his assets frozen and has since been sanctioned by the European Union and disqualified as Chelsea manager by the Premier League.

In order to help complete a soft sale, the 55-year-old revealed in March that he would write off the debt owed to him by the club, with the proceeds of the sale going to a charitable foundation for “all the victims of the war”. in Ukraine”.

According to media reports this week, Abramovich had apparently backtracked on the move, raising doubts over whether a takeover would happen before the May 31 deadline, when Chelsea’s government license expires.

But in a statement attributed to a spokesperson for Abramovich, published on the Chelsea website on Thursday, the Russian said his initial stance had not changed – including his asking price for the London team.

“Firstly, Mr Abramovich’s intentions regarding donating the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea to charity have not changed,” the statement read.

“Since the initial announcement, Mr. Abramovich’s team has identified senior representatives from UN agencies and major global charities who have been tasked with creating a foundation and establishing a plan for its activities.

“The lead independent expert had conversations with government officials outlining the initial structure and plans. Mr. Abramovich was not involved in this work and it was independently managed by experts with years of experience. experience in humanitarian organizations.

“Secondly, Mr. Abramovich did not ask for any loan repayment – such suggestions are entirely false – as are suggestions that Mr. Abramovich increased the price of the club at the last minute.

“As part of Mr Abramovich’s aim to find a good goalkeeper for Chelsea FC, he has however encouraged every candidate throughout this process to commit to investing in the club – including the academy. , the women’s team, the necessary redevelopment of the stadium as well as maintaining the work of the Chelsea Foundation.”

A consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly is reportedly close to finalizing the final details of a takeover, despite a last-minute offer from Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

However, a deal cannot be reached until the British government is absolutely certain that Abramovich will not receive any proceeds.

“Following the sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Mr Abramovich by the UK since the announcement of the sale of the club, the loan has also been subject to EU sanctions, requiring further approvals,” added the spokesperson.

“This means that the funds will be frozen and subject to a legal procedure governed by the authorities. These funds are always intended for the foundation. The government is aware of these restrictions as well as the legal implications.

“To be clear, Mr. Abramovich has no access to or control over these funds and will have no access to or control over these funds after the sale. Despite the changed circumstances since his initial announcement, he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes.”

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