December 5, 2023

Chelsea could face scrutiny over alleged payments linked to former owner Roman Abramovich

  • Written by Dan Rowan
  • BBC Sports Editor

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The UK government imposed sanctions on Abramovich as part of its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Chelsea could face further scrutiny from football authorities over reports of payments linked to the club’s former owner Roman Abramovich.

The Guardian reported that leaked files show the Russian billionaire used offshore companies to conduct transactions worth tens of millions of pounds for agents and partners which appeared to favor the club, and would have breached financial rules if they had not been officially announced.

The revelation is likely to intensify questions about how Abramovich, who owned Chelsea for 19 years until he was sanctioned by the British government in 2022, financed a period of unprecedented success.

Both the Football Association and the Premier League are already investigating possible breaches of financial rules by the club.

Chelsea were fined £8.6m by UEFA in July as part of a settlement for breaching Financial Fair Play rules for “providing incomplete financial information” between 2012 and 2019.

Both the FA and the Premier League declined to comment while investigations continue. It is not clear at this stage whether their investigations relate to information reported by Chelsea themselves or whether these also include the new allegations reported by The Guardian.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “These allegations pre-date the current ownership of the club. They are based on documents not presented by the club and do not relate to any individual currently at the club.”

The spokesperson said that during the purchase of the club, the current owners became aware of “potentially incomplete financial reporting in relation to historical transactions during previous ownership of the club”.

They added: “Once the purchase was completed, the club proactively communicated these matters to all relevant football regulators.”

“In accordance with the club ownership group’s core principles of full compliance and transparency, the club has proactively assisted the relevant regulators in their investigations and will continue to do so.”

Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and invested millions over nearly two decades, as the club went on to win the Champions League in 2012 and 2021, as well as five Premier League titles.

He was forced to sell the club last year after the government froze its assets following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Clubs can be found and given a points deduction if they are found guilty of violating financial rules.

Earlier this week, the BBC reported that leaked documents revealed a money trail linking Abramovich to two men dubbed President Vladimir Putin’s “governors.”

BBC Newsnight, BBC Verify and Panorama have teamed up with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to reveal the revelations as part of the undercover investigation into Cyprus – a global investigation led by journalists at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Paper Trail Media.

Abramovich previously denied any financial relationship with the Russian leader.

He did not respond to requests for comment from the BBC.

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