Chelsea could face scrutiny over alleged Abramovich payments

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

The Guardian has reported that leaked files show the Russian billionaire used offshore companies to make transactions worth tens of millions of pounds to agents and associates which appear to have been for the club’s benefit, and could have breached financial rules if they were not officially declared.

The revelations are likely to intensify questions over how Abramovich, who owned Chelsea for 19 years until he was sanctioned by the British government in 2022, funded a period of unprecedented success.

Both the Football Association and the Premier League are already investigating potential financial rule breaches by the club.

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

Those breaches were reported by the new Stamford Bridge ownership following the club’s sale to a consortium led by American investor Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

Both the FA and Premier League declined to comment while their investigations were ongoing. It is unclear at this stage whether their probes relate to the information Chelsea self-reported or whether these also include the new allegations reported by the Guardian.

A Chelsea spokesperson said: “These allegations pre-date the club’s current ownership. They are based on documents which the club has not been shown and do not relate to any individual who is presently at the club.”

The spokesperson said during the purchase of the club the current owners became aware of “potentially incomplete financial reporting concerning historical transactions during the club’s previous ownership”.

They added: “Immediately following the completion of the purchase, the club proactively self-reported these matters to all applicable football regulators.

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

Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and invested millions over almost 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 his assets were frozen by the government following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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

Premier League champions Manchester City were charged with more than 100 breaches of financial rules in February. The club have denied financial wrongdoing.

In May, Everton were referred to an independent commission by the Premier League over an alleged breach of FFP rules. They have also denied wrongdoing.

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

BBC Newsnight, BBC Verify and Panorama partnered with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to uncover the revelations as part of Cyprus Confidential – a global investigation led by reporters at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Paper Trail Media.

They alleged that leaked documents from Cyprus reveal new evidence linking him to a secret £26m deal in 2010.

Abramovich has previously denied any financial relationship with the Russian leader.

He has not responded to requests for comment from the BBC.