Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has reportedly withdrawn his UK visa application which is likely to come as a blow for the London-based club and for investment in the United Kingdom. The decision, as reported by the BBC, comes weeks after his investor visa application had been delayed by the UK Home Office.
The news would create further concern around Stamford Bridge after plans to build a new stadium were put on hold amid “current unfavourable investment climate” even as the Russian oligarch faces trouble in entering the country. The club on Thursday had confirmed that plans to transform their home of 113 years into a 60,000-seater stadium had been shelved for the time being.
A source close to the tycoon had said his application to extend the visa had not been refused or denied, as had been reported earlier.
In the meanwhile, he received Israeli citizenship this week after applying for it at the embassy in Moscow, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported. Abramovich was found eligible for citizenship, as a Jew, under Israeli law and granted citizenship, the channel said, citing an unnamed spokesman for Nativ, which handles Jewish immigration from Russian-speaking countries.
The delay in renewing Abramovich’s investor visa came to light at a time when there’s increased diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow, following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Reports have suggested that the Russian’s visa expired three weeks ago. Changes to the visa process, which came into effect in 2015, mean applicants may be required to prove the origins of their wealth.
Abramovich, who made his fortune in oil and gas in the 1990s, became owner of the companies that control Chelsea in 2003. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, he is Britain’s 13th-richest man, with a net worth of £9.3bn. He is reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had missed Chelsea’s FA Cup triumph at Wembley owing to visa troubles.