Thomas Tuchel has admitted it’s hard to think of life without Roman Abramovich at Chelsea as the club prepare for a ‘massive change of course’.
The Blues owner has confirmed his decision to sell the club to shield it from the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, signaling the end of a glittering era at Stamford Bridge.
Questions have been asked about the Russian-Israeli billionaire in parliament as the British government continues to target Russian money with sanctions, although Abramovich denies links to Vladimir Putin and has not yet been punished.
Chelsea overcame a scare at Luton to seal a 3-2 FA Cup win on the night of the announcement, with Abramovich’s most expensive signing Romelu Lukaku sealing the victory.
Asked to sum up the owner’s impact at Chelsea after the game, Blues boss Tuchel replied: “It’s a bit too early because it’s big news.
“It’s a little too early to talk because I can only think of Chelsea with Roman Abramovich. So it’s very hard for me. He hasn’t understood yet that it’s going to stop. It’s a huge change of course.
“We didn’t talk about it (before the Luton game). We didn’t talk about it, we accepted it.
“The players have internet connections, they watch TV so of course they know, they get messages. But we have always focused in preparation only on sport.
“And maybe some players are affected more, some less, but in the end we were able to focus, grow in this game and find the top key to win it.
“I don’t think I need to talk about it, I don’t know as much as you might think.” I am neither CEO nor board member. So, I’m sure the club will talk to us and the players.
“I’m not so worried because I still feel privileged and well placed. And I always hope and trust for the best. I’m not so much the person who worries about things I can’t influence.
“It’s big news, it will be a big change, but I’m never afraid of change and I will focus on what I can influence, and that’s the staff and the team at Cobham.”
Abramovich, who bought Chelsea in 2003 and handed over 21 trophies in 19 years, has revealed that all net proceeds from any sale will go to war victims in Ukraine, while writing off £1.5billion of debt the club owes him.
The 55-year-old, who is said to be trying to broker peace between Ukraine and Russia, still faces an uncertain future, just like Chelsea.
In a statement, Abramovich said: “As I have said before, I have always taken decisions in the best interest of the club. In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, because I believe it is in the best interests of the club, the fans, the employees, and the club’s sponsors and partners.
“The sale of the club will not be expedited but will follow due process. I will not ask for any loan repayment. It was never about business or money for me, but pure passion for the game and the club.
“Additionally, I have instructed my team to establish a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will benefit all victims of war in Ukraine. This includes providing essential funds for the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as support for long-term recovery work.
“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it hurts me to part ways with the club in this way. However, I believe it is in the interest of the club.
“I hope I can visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to you in person. It has been the 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.”
Since buying the club in 2003, Abramovich has overseen a period of 15 managers and 21 trophies, revolutionizing the Blues and football ownership itself.
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He has invested more than £2billion in the club – and former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino believes Abramovich was only ever interested in success, not profit, at Stamford Bridge.
“He’s been an incredible owner, in so many ways,” Cascarino told talkSPORT. “He really has.
“I remember when he first came to England, reading reports of how he would leave in two years and leave Chelsea in the mud.
“It’s so far from what he has done at this football club.
“He bankrolled the club to succeed and always aimed to be a winner.
“You ask any Chelsea fan, Abramovich’s time at this football club has been extraordinary.”
He continued: “What he did is unbelievable to me, he seems to have read the situation of when to sack and when that was done the success came so fast.
“There was no transition period. When was there a transition under Abramovich? Never.
“He always spotted the weakness of the club. He must be a football genius in some way, I don’t know many football clubs who can do things that quickly.
Cascarino added: “I was lucky enough to be with Abramovich at Cobham. I was with ex-players and we laughed because he was like a youngster on the sidelines, watching his football team practice. .
“I felt like he was always all-in at Chelsea. What he built was an empire. He made Chelsea the most attractive club in London.
“They don’t have the home stadium of Arsenal, Tottenham or West Ham, but they are in a fantastic position with the youth academy, the number of great players, the women’s team has been successful.”
These are now uncertain times for Chelsea fans, as the club seek a new owner, with the price tag believed to be £3billion.
However, Cascarino believes Abramovich has given Chelsea the foundation to continue their success under new ownership.
The former Republic of Ireland striker said: “If they sell to the right people, who are ready to invest, I can see that continuing.
“Chelsea generate, year after year, a huge sum of money with sponsorship, television rights, by succeeding they can compete with the very big clubs in Europe.
“I’d like to think that won’t change.”
Cascarino added: “I think Abramovich loved the football club and I really believed him with his actions.
“Some would say he was forced, I’d like to think he’s doing it for the right reasons and the goal is to keep Chelsea at the top.
“I spoke to Ken Bates after they sold Chelsea to Abramovich, and he said he thought they could become the biggest club in London.
“It was achieved with a lot of love, a lot of money and by employing people at the right time. It’s something he did at an incredible level.