Roman Abramovich has confirmed his decision to sell Chelsea amid Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire has owned the Blues since 2003 and helped steer the Stamford Bridge club to 19 major trophies.

But the 55-year-old’s glittering reign in west London is close to an end, with a consortium of billionaires already making their interest in a deal public.

Abramovich could come under UK government sanctions given his proximity to the Russian state, though he is also understood to have been attempting to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.

"I would like to address the speculation in the media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC," Abramovich said in a statement.

"As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart.

"In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the club in this manner. I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person.

"It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart."

Abramovich said that he would not be asking for the reported £1.5 billion he has made in loans over the years to Chelsea to be repaid and said that any profit made from the sale would be donated to help victims of the war.

"The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process," he said. "I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid.

"This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.

"I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine."

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and USA investor Todd Boehly are understood to be two of the parties joining forces and now preparing a bid for the Blues.

Wyss said today that he had been given the chance to buy the club and is preparing a consortium to submit an offer.

The 86-year-old billionaire Wyss has admitted he will look into the details of any possible deal to buy Chelsea, with the asking price thought to push beyond £2 billion.

"Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly," Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick.

"I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.

"I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much.

"You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price."

Abramovich attempted to step back from the daily running of Chelsea on Saturday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Blues boss has tried to hand the "stewardship and care" of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation trustees.

That led the Charity Commission to contact the Stamford Bridge club for more detail on Abramovich’s plans, after several of the trustees raised concerns over technicalities.

Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for the UK government to impose sanctions on Abramovich after a number of Russian oligarchs have already fallen under such penalties.

Abramovich’s spokesperson has said that the Russian-Israeli businessman was attempting to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.

Hansjorg Wyss, right, pictured with Michael Bloomberg in 2015

Swiss billionaire Wyss, who founded medical device firm Synthes USA, insisted he could only consider a deal for Chelsea with a clutch of investment partners.

"I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners," said Wyss.

"But I have to examine the general conditions first. What I can already say: I'm definitely not doing something like this alone.

"If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors."

The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland (CGIUKI) said today that the proposed sale posed "considerable risk" to Chelsea's Foundation.

"While there are reports today that Mr Abramovich is seeking to sell Chelsea FC, his proposal on Saturday involving the club’s charitable arm raises a number of serious charity governance concerns," CGIUKI said in a statement.

"To accept Mr Abramovich’s offer would pose considerable risk – both financial and reputational – for the charity and its trustees. They must consider whether taking on a £500m club carrying recent losses of £153.4m will have a detrimental effect on the charity’s ability to carry out its activities, particularly given its current income of only £5m.

"Taking on the club’s reported £1.5 billion loans from Mr Abramovich could result in the trustees and the foundation losing the ability to act independently, especially in the light of the present lack of clarity regarding the degree of authority, not to mention ownership, that is being transferred.

"In the interests of upholding good governance, we recommend that the Chelsea Foundation’s trustees refer to the Charity Governance Code. They should consider their legal duties under charity law and whether the charitable purposes of the Foundation will be supported by such a move.

"In accordance with the Code, the trustees should also consider whether they possess the relevant skills and experience needed to manage an entity of Chelsea FC’s size and complexity.

"We are pleased to hear that the Chelsea Foundation has decided to report Mr Abramovich’s proposal to the Charity Commission and we await with interest the outcome of their deliberations and further legal advice."

Alisher Usmanov

Meanwhile, Everton have suspended commercial ties with Alisher Usmanov's companies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Uzbekistan-born billionaire is founder of private Russian holding company USM and has had his assets frozen as part of sanctions imposed by the European Union in response to Russia’s ongoing attack.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is chairman of the board of directors at USM Holdings, which has sponsored Everton’s training ground since agreeing an initial five-year deal in 2017. It also has an option on naming rights for the Toffees’ new stadium – a deal worth £30m to the club.

MegaFon is among USM’s businesses and Everton Women signed a multi-year principal partnership deal with the telecommunications operator in October 2020, when Yota – part of the MegaFon Group – was added to the sleeve.

Branding is set to be removed from Goodison Park and the Finch Farm training base after the Premier League club confirmed the immediate suspension of agreements with the three companies.

An Everton statement read: "Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine.

"This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided.

"The players, coaching staff and everyone working at Everton is providing full support to our player Vitalii Mykolenko and his family and will continue to do so.

"The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota."

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