Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich has gone home after his UK visa ran out, it has emerged.
The London-based billionaire did not attend Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, when his team beat Manchester United 1-0.
Reports suggest the 51-year-old oil and gas tycoon returned to his native country last month when his visa expired.
Without updated paperwork he would be unable to come back to Britain, where he has a massive home and business interests.
Last night there was speculation the visa renewal was being dragged out amid pressure on the Government to take a tougher approach to rich foreign oligarchs.
The riddle follows growing UK-Moscow diplomatic tensions over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
The office of yacht-loving Mr Abramovich, who is thought to be close to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and split from his third wife Dasha last autumn, refused to discuss personal matters.
But a source said he was renewing his permission to live in Britain and it was taking a little longer than usual.
Tory MP Bob Seely, who sits on the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and has quizzed witnesses on Russia, said of the visa delay: “Either there is an innocent explanation or the Government is becoming less sympathetic to Russian oligarchs in the UK.
“Either way, denying visas to oligarchs is potentially important.”
Mr Abramovich, who took control of Chelsea in 2003, is said to be the 13th-richest man in Britain with a £9.3billion fortune.
He was expected to give evidence last week in a London court case between two other Russian oligarchs but did not appear as planned.
The Home Office declined to comment on his visa.
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