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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has no interest in selling the club despite fresh speculation linking Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with a takeover, a source has told ESPN.

Ratcliffe referred to “conversations” he has had about buying Chelsea in an interview with BBC Sport to promote his takeover and re-branding of cycling giants Team Sky as Team Ineos. The billionaire added that “you never say no” when asked about the possibility of acquiring the club from Abramovich, despite describing himself as “a tortured Manchester United fan.”

The 66-year-old did enquire about Chelsea’s availability in May 2018, but his approach was politely declined before the discussion advanced to potential valuations.

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A source told ESPN that Abramovich has never spoken to Ratcliffe or any other interested party about selling Chelsea. The Russian remains committed to the club he acquired for £140 million from Ken Bates in July 2003, into which he has since invested around £1.13 billion of his personal wealth.

Ratcliffe has also revealed he received a guided tour of Chelsea’s Cobham training ground several years ago, though a source said that this was offered to several high-value corporate box owners as a way of thanking them for renewing their financial commitment to matchdays at Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich, by contrast, stopped paying up front for his own corporate box at the stadium this season, raising further questions about the Russian’s long-term interest in and commitment to owning Chelsea.

Marina Granovskaia oversees Chelsea’s day-to-day football operations on Abramovich’s behalf and the Russian has not attended a game at Stamford Bridge since having an application to renew his tier-1 investor visa rejected by the UK government last year, amid heightened political tensions with Russia.

Abramovich responded by seeking Israeli citizenship and halting the proposed £1bn redevelopment of Stamford Bridge into a state-of-the-art 60,000-seat arena. There is currently no timetable for the project to resume.

Chelsea have won 15 major trophies since Abramovich took over the club in 2003, and could still add a 16th by lifting this season’s Europa League.

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