Gary Neville slams ‘cowardly’ PR stunt by Roman Abramovich

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has naturally sent shockwaves across the globe. Following the invasion, Russia has been struck with numerous sanctions aimed as punishments. Additionally, there have been calls for actions to be taken against those viewed as ‘enablers’ of Putin’s regime. And Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been seen as the one of them. 

In a book entitled ‘Putin’s People’ ‘ claims were made that the Russian Billionaire purchased the London club on the instructions of Vladimir Putin, these claims have since been rescinded and Abramovich has received a public apology from the publisher. 

Nevertheless, there have been constant calls by many, including Labour MP Chris Bryant, for sanctions against the billionaire and even the seizure of his assets. In response, Abramovich released a statement via the club’s socials , one which led to more questions than answers. 

The message comes off as vague in nature and offers little clarity about the future of the club. The main takeaway appears to be the billionaire distancing himself from the club for the time being and handing over ‘stewardship’ to the trustees of Chelsea’s Charitable Foundation. 

As for the rest of the message, it came off as PR babble, and it certainly rubbed many the wrong way, including former Manchester United player Gary Neville

During Sky Sports’ coverage of the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool, Neville deemed the statement to be a ‘cowardly approach’. He cast his doubts on whether the Trustees will truly run the club, and if the statement is merely a smokescreen while Abramovich continues to remain in charge being the scenes.

He said, “I thought it was cowardly to throw a hospital pass to the good people on the charity foundation board. It’s quite clear he runs the club with Marina and Cech. Top 6 owners are insulated from reality. They think they can put a smart PR team around them to con us.”

He then asks essentially the main question everyone wanted to know the answer to, 

Does Roman Abramovich support the war in Ukraine? 

While it’s unlikely that question will ever be answered, the minute clarity that the statement provided came into the question soon after, as reports emerged of doubts amongst the Trustees as well and their concerns of being seen as a ‘front’. 

Amidst all this, the main concern for fans is definitely regarding the future of the club, and that question still remains unanswered.