Gary Neville said “no one has bought” Roman Abramovich’s statement on his Chelsea ownership and that he is using the club’s charitable foundation as to “shield” himself.

Amid mounting pressure following a call from a prominent MP for Abramovich to be stripped of his assets earlier this week in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chelsea owner released a statement through the club website on Saturday stating he would be handing over the “stewardship and care” to its charitable foundation arm.

There was no mention of what that would mean in practice, whether Abramovich would look to sell up, or any reference to the situation in Ukraine itself, but later on Saturday news began to break that there would be little difference in terms of the day-to-day running of the club, and that Abramovich intended to remain as owner.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final clash with Liverpool, Neville told Sky Sports that not only did the statement raise more questions than it answered, but also that the contents of it had “no credibility or substance whatsoever.”

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Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains what Roman Abramovich’s decision to hand ‘stewardship and care’ of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation means for the club.

He said: “When we saw that statement my first feeling was, it wasn’t suspicion but it was ‘what is this?’ Then when you start to read the language you realise it was a meaningless statement, it doesn’t have any strength behind it and the only question we want Roman Abramovich to answer, if he is going to speak, is ‘does he condemn the war or does he support the war on Ukraine?’

“From my point of view, looking at it, saying that the trustees of the Chelsea charity are going to be in charge of Chelsea Football Club is ridiculous. Piara Powar, who set up Kick It Out, John Devine, Emma Hayes, Bruce Buck – they’re never going to run Chelsea Football Club, they’re not looking after Chelsea Football Club.

“Chelsea are a limited company, owned by Roman Abramovich, that have directors. There’s no way you can hand over control to a group of charity trustees, who to be fair should be at arm’s length anyway – charities should be at arm’s length from a football club.

“So I don’t know why he thought, or those close to him thought it was going to wash. I was surprised at Roman Abramovich, one of the things he’s done well over that 20 years or so is not say anything. At the time when he has said something I think it’s left more questions than answers.”

Chelsea released another, shorter statement on Sunday morning making reference, for the first time, to the war in Ukraine but stopped short of condemning the Russian invasion, with the 23-word post stating the club’s “thoughts were with everyone” in the country.

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Jamie Carragher says Chelsea have ’embarrassed themselves’ in their handling of the situation surrounding Roman Abramovich’s decision to temporarily step away from the club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Neville questioned whether the additional correspondence had been devised because of the backlash to the original statement, which he said had used the Chelsea Foundation as a “shield” for Abramovich’s personal situation.

He said: “It is PR, it was bad PR. I don’t know if the statement this morning was planned or if it was off the back of people seeing through the statement last night which was first released which said Roman Abramovich was handing over to the Charity trustees – which no one has bought.

“I think everyone worked out that didn’t have any credibility or substance whatsoever. I would have preferred Roman Abramovich to come out and say I’m a Russian national, I own Chelsea Football Club and I will continue to own Chelsea Football Club. Chelsea charity trustees are not running the football club, executives and directors will under the guidance of Roman Abramovich.

“What he has done is try to use the charity as a shield, which I don’t think is impressive as a leader. Those people on that trustee board didn’t sign up to be used by Roman Abramovich in a crisis, they signed up to work on a charity board to assist in their foundation, not to be used as a shield telling everyone they’re running the football club because they’re clearly not.”

What has Abramovich said?

In a rare statement from Abramovich on Saturday evening, the Chelsea owner said: “During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities.

“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.

“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans.”

Cech: Everyone’s thoughts with Ukraine

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Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea’s statement on the Ukraine crisis includes the club’s owner Roman Abramovich.

Speaking ahead of the Carabao Cup final, Chelsea’s technical advisor Petr Cech, the most-capped player in the history of the Czech Republic – who have said they will refuse to play Russia if drawn against them in the upcoming World Cup play-offs – spoke out to say the thoughts of everyone at the club were with the stricken nation.

He said: “We cannot deny there is a conflict and war in Europe, which I think every human being will have their thoughts with those affected and it is the same at our club.

“We obviously hope the situation will be resolved as soon as possible. We try to prepare for the game as normal as possible, the players the same way but it is a distraction – not only for the players but for people around the world.”

Carragher: Abramovich statement ‘poor and embarrassing’

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher criticised both statements from Chelsea and Abramovich regarding the owner’s handing over the stewardship of the club, saying they have “let themselves down badly”.

Carragher has slammed Chelsea’s handling of the situation, saying “they’ve embarrassed themselves.”

“I don’t think they’ve handled it really well. With the couple of statements they’ve put out. I think it’s been really poor and they’ve let themselves down badly.

“The club came out today and put a statement out, but I think it was almost trying to rectify what Roman Abramovich had put out the night before. I don’t think they did that well either. It’s not worked out well for them at all, I think they’ve embarrassed themselves.”