Chelsea money for Ukraine? Blocked for eighteen months

Abramovich’s promise ran aground due to bureaucratic obstacles. David Cameron, the Sunak government’s new foreign secretary, will try to resolve the deadlock

From our correspondent Davide Chinellato

– London

The promise was clear: the money from the sale of Chelsea will be donated “to all the victims of the war in Ukraine”. Roman Abramovich did it on March 2, 2022, when he put the club up for sale, forced by the incoming sanctions for his closeness to Vladimir Putin. The sale of the Blues was completed on May 30, 2022: eighteen months later, the 2.5 billion intended “for all the victims of the war in Ukraine” still have not been spent. They are frozen in a bank account, waiting for the British government and the European Union to resolve a sensational bureaucratic hitch that is blocking their use. A problem that David Cameron, the Sunak government’s new foreign secretary, is already receiving pressure to resolve.

the hitch

The money was supposed to be managed by an independent foundation, but in May the British government signed a joint statement with the European Union pledging that the money would be spent exclusively within Ukraine’s borders. Mike Penrose, the former English head of Unicef ​​and the chosen president of the foundation that is supposed to manage Chelsea’s money, and a number of humanitarian organizations such as Save The Children, insist instead that the money should be spent on helping all victims of war in Ukraine: not only those within the borders of the state, but also all the families forced to find refuge in Europe or Great Britain and even the populations reduced to hunger because Ukrainian grain no longer arrives due to the war. In doubt, the British government continues to keep the funds blocked, also aware that Abramovich’s approval is needed to be able to extend humanitarian aid outside Ukraine.

the appeal

“I’m sure that a man of Cameron’s stature, someone who made humanitarian aid a key issue for Britain when he was Prime Minister, will understand how important it is to release these funds and ensure that they go towards helping all the victims of war in Ukraine, wherever they are – said Penrose in statements reported by the English newspaper The Telegraph -. We can help not only people in Ukraine, but also those who have found refuge in Great Britain, families who have fled to neighboring Moldova or Poland, but also those who are starving due to the global consequences that the war has caused.” Penrose has not yet met Cameron, but he hopes to do so in the coming weeks, when he will also bring him an appeal signed by British families who are hosting Ukrainian refugees. Cameron will have to decide whether the British government can change its position and expand the use of the funds outside the Ukrainian borders. In the meantime, however, the 2.5 billion euros from the sale of Chelsea which were supposed to be transformed into aid for war victims remain blocked, frozen in a bank account waiting for someone to decide how they can be spent.