Explained: Why Roman Abramovich has not been attending Chelsea matches

Roman Abramovich’s presence on match day at Stamford Bridge was a given. The Russian was checking out the spectacle from his spacious West Stand box as the side coached by Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti or Antonio Conte tried to put the day’s visitors to the sword on the pitch.

The few, often accompanied by relatives, other members of the club’s hierarchy or trusted football advisors, would pay tribute to each goal as they stepped in, just as he does when attending youth team matches at the club’s academy near the town of Surrey Cobham, a few miles south of London. His interest extended through the club that he financed.

He has seen five Premier League wins from that vantage point and has never tried to snatch the limelight. He would look almost uncomfortable if television cameras sharpened him and his image appeared on the big screens at either end of the earth. Regardless, everyone realized that the Russian was the character who made Chelsea’s dominance possible.

However, as of last weekend, Abramovich had been conspicuous by his absence from home matches since early spring 2018.

He missed the politically toxic end to Conte’s tenure and, in terms of matches in England, Maurizio Sarri’s entire year in power. Understandably, he had never seen Frank Lampard’s side, adorned with home-grown players developed at the club’s academy in Cobham, play a home game in person, and had been waiting to see the squad trained by current coach Thomas Tuchel jogging in that south-west London corner.

That changed on Sunday.

Abramovich’s return to visit


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