Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has sent a strong warning to the Premier League following the decision of Roman Abramovich to sell Chelsea.
Abramovich announced on Wednesday evening that he would be selling the club after 19 years.
He stated his belief that the decision was “in the best interest” of Chelsea, and confirmed that the sale would follow “due process”.
His position as owner of Chelsea came under serious pressure after Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday.
Abramovich is alleged to have strong links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he has always denied.
On Wednesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson why Abramovich was not facing sanctions. Johnson replied that it was “not appropriate to comment on individual cases at this time“.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, meanwhile, revealed a leaked 2019 Home Office document in the House of Commons which states Abramovich is of interest to the government because of “his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices”.
Abramovich decision is the latest ownership headline
The Roman Abramovich headlines have once again opened up a key concern when it comes to football ownership.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Gary Neville stated his belief that Abramovich was a “very good” owner for Chelsea.
But Neville reiterated how this isn’t the case with all football club owners. The EFL, for instance, expelled Bury from the Football League in 2019. That was after owner Steve Dale failed to provide the EFL with necessary information about the club’s financial viability, and due to unpaid debts.
Meanwhile, this week, the EFL has demanded an urgent update from Derby County to show that they have proof of funds required to complete the remainder of the season. Furthermore, Derby were placed into administration by previous owner Mel Morris in September. At the time, the Daily Mail reported that the club’s debts totalled around £50 million.
Neville sends warning to Premier League
Gary Neville has explained why football is “on the brink” regarding ownership issues and has urged the Premier League to act.
He explained: “What I believe should at least be the right of all football fans in the country, including Newcastle fans, is what was the criteria that the Saudi Arabians had to get through to be accepted into English football? Where was the independence? Where is the transparency?
“The Premier League is a closed shop around these matters. It’s just not good enough. It’s coming hurtling at them like you would not believe.
“They are going to have to stand up and accept that whilst they don’t believe they are a public body, and they’re not in essence because they’re a private body owned by the 20 clubs. But ultimately, they are going to have to be viewed like that.
“It’s coming towards them very quickly, and they have to shape up. These issues are encircling them. Week by week, month by month, year by year. This is just another one this week with Roman Abramovich.”
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