Roman Abramovich has broken a long public silence, vowing to continue his quest for more glory at Chelsea and with a gentle warning for head coach Thomas Tuchel that he will be judged on his trophies.
Abramovich reflected fondly on his time as owner at Stamford Bridge as he spoke to Forbes magazine in his first full-scale interview for nearly 15 years.
The Russian billionaire spoke with affection about creating world-class teams – including the successful women’s team and the academy – and about tackling discrimination and providing a positive impact on the club’s communities.
Abramovich said: ‘I think the trophies speak for themselves and show what we as a club have been able to achieve over these years, and it’s my goal for us to keep winning trophies going forward and build for the future.
‘Chelsea has a very rich history, and I feel extremely fortunate to a play a part in that. The club was here before me, and will be here after me, but my job is to ensure we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future.’
With the help of his huge investment on and off the pitch, Chelsea have won 16 major trophies since his £140million takeover in the summer of 2003.
Within two years of his arrival, they were champions of England for the first time in 50 years and, in 2012, they became the first London club to be crowned champions of Europe.
By a distance, his years in charge has been the most glittering period in the club’s long history and co-defined by a hiring-and-firing culture with a rapid turnover of managers and head coaches.
He risked the wrath of fans by sacking club legend Frank Lampard, in January, but his replacement Tuchel is unbeaten in his first 13 games, into the last eight of the Champions League and preparing for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Sheffield United.
‘I think we are pragmatic in our choices,’ said Abramovich. ‘And we are comfortable making the right changes at the right time to ensure we can achieve our long-term ambitions.
‘I hope it also says something about the clarity of the long-term ambition of the club. Those who join understand the objectives both on the pitch, as well as the wider positive role the club plays in the community.’
Abramovich recalls being lured into football by the emotion and excitement of the sport.
‘There is no set formula for winning football matches,’ the 54-year-old Russian told Forbes.
‘A coach and his or her squad have to consider many factors when approaching each match.
‘It’s like every few days is a new exam and the work you have put in gets evaluated. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the unpredictability and seeing how each game plays out.’
On women’s football, he said: ‘Women’s football has huge potential. If women’s football received the same level as support as men’s football, the sport would obviously be equally successful on the business side.’
And on his passionate fight against racism and antisemitism, he said: ‘This is all the same type of evil and should have no place on our world at this day and age. It’s disgraceful that this is the reality.’
His only regret about his Chelsea project appears to be the extra attention.
‘In hindsight, especially with the public profile it would bring me, maybe I would have thought differently about owning a club,’ said Abramovich.
At the time, I just saw this incredible game and that I wanted to be a part of that in one way or another.’