Abramovich hands over control of Chelsea to club’s foundation

during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on May 15, 2016 in London, England.

Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Saturday said he was handing over the “stewardship and care” of the Premier League club to the trustees of its charitable foundation.

The move comes with Russia under intense scrutiny following its military operation in Ukraine this week.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Premier League club Chelsea in 2003. /CFP

Abramovich, who took over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, said in a statement: “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.”

It is understood Abramovich took the decision in order to protect Chelsea from continued links to the wider global political situation as war rages in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, using parliamentary privilege, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran named him as one of 35 “key enablers” to Russian leader Vladimir Putin who should be sanctioned.