Abramovich urged to build Russian superclub as Chelsea era ends
Russian State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev has called on Roman Abramovich to build a team in his homeland on the same level as Premier League giants Chelsea, as the sanctioned billionaire sees his ownership of the London club come to an end.
Abramovich's two-decade tenure at Chelsea is almost over after he put the club up for sale and had his assets frozen by the British government in response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
A sale of the club is still possible while overseen by the British government if Abramovich cannot benefit in any way, with a Friday deadline looming for several multibillion-dollar bids.
Duma Deputy Svishchev, who is chairman of the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, has blasted the sanctions but also laid down the gauntlet to Abramovich to once more build a club into a powerhouse.
"The British authorities have already gone so far as to introduce bans not only for Russian citizens, but also for their own citizens," Svishchev said.
"How can you forbid supporting your own team and the person who, in fact, raised Chelsea from the bottom?" he asked, with reference to the ban on selling extra tickets to home matches at Stamford Bridge, where away fans also aren't allowed to attend.
"Abramovich invested so much time and money in the British club that you need to have respect for this work," Svishchev claimed of the Russian businessman's 21-trophy haul with the Blues, which has taken in two Champions League titles and, most recently, the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Trying to look for positives, however, Svishchev suggested: "On the other hand, we can think that a person with the experience of Roman Abramovich will now be able to turn his attention to Russian football and create a club of the highest level here.
"I think now is the time to use the moment to qualitatively improve our sports clubs at the expense of our own resources. And the experience of people like Abramovich will undoubtedly be valuable for our sports industry," the politician added, while demanding that the UK government stops interfering with sports.
Svischev's comments come after Russian football agent Timur Gurtskaya said earlier this week that the "most logical decision" for Abramovich moving forward "would be to take [over] CSKA Moscow, [the] club which he has always been attached with."
Speaking to the YouTube channel Vyshli!, Gurtskaya continued by highlighting Abramovich's "good relationship with the current owner" VEB.RF, a state development corporation, and stated that he doesn't believe "there are any other clubs" Abramovich could assume control over.
There were previously claims that Abramovich had a controlling stake in CSKA Moscow, but a UEFA investigation into a potential conflict of interest found no evidence.
In 2017, Abramovich's son Arkady allegedly showed interest in buying CSKA and reportedly even offered €250 million ($275 million) for a controlling stake in the six-time Russian Premier League winners, although again, the rumors were dismissed.
"What is happening at Chelsea is a shame," Gurtskaya added.
"Abramovich has held the club for many years, but now he has become someone to target," he finished, echoing Svischev.
On a UK government-imposed travel budget of just £20,000 ($26,000), Chelsea continue the defense of their Champions League crown away at Lille on Wednesday while boasting a 2-0 advantage from the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea currently operate on a special license in the UK that will allow them to continue paying players and staff and complete their fixtures, but there have been reports of them needing to obtain another license to play the match in France amid the EU's freshly-announced sanctions on Abramovich.