Published time: 1 Aug, 2019 10:31
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich watched his team for the first time under new manager Frank Lampard as the billionaire Russian made a rare appearance at a pre-season friendly in Austria which included a Pedro wondergoal.
Despite continued speculation over a potential sale of the London team – most recently with US baseball tycoon Todd Boehly being linked with a possible bid – Abramovich is said to remain committed to the club he has owned since 2003.
And the Russian, 52, was in the stands in Austria as he saw Chelsea take on RB Salzburg in an entertaining pre-season friendly which the Blues won 5-3.
That included a double from big-money new signing Christian Pulisic as well as a backheeled wondergoal from Spaniard Pedro.
Abramovich also watched Chelsea win the Europa League in Baku in May, but is not believed to have attended any Chelsea league games during the whole of last season due to UK visa problems which emerged in the wake of the Salisbury spy poisoning row between the UK and Russia.
After reportedly withdrawing his application for a UK investor visa, Abramovich took Israeli citizenship which would allow him to visit Britain – although he is not believed to have been at a Chelsea home game in around two years.
In May of last year, Chelsea put their plans for a new $1 billion stadium on hold for an indefinite period, citing an “unfavorable financial climate.”
There has been speculation Abramovich would be willing to sell the club should he receive an offer of around $3.2 billion, with reports that US and Asian groups have explored a potential offer, as well as the UK’s richest man, chemicals magnate Jim Ratcliffe.Also on rt.com Youd never say no: UK's richest man not ruling out bid to buy Chelsea from Abramovich
Most recently, reports surfaced linking US baseball tycoon Boehly, part owner of MLB franchise the LA Dodgers, to a potential bid.
However, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck reasserted in April that Abramovich was “committed” to the club, and his presence at Wednesday’s friendly indicates continued interest from the Russian billionaire in his team ahead of the new season.Also on rt.com Abramovich personally reaches out to Lampard in bid to bring Chelsea legend in as manager
Abramovich’s presence may be a welcome sign for the Blues, who are forced to contend with a two-window transfer ban by FIFA as new manager Lampard prepares for his first campaign in charge.