LONDON - Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has hired an investment bank to consider the sale of his English Premier League soccer team Chelsea, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

A source at the club denied Abramovich planned any sale.

The Sunday Times said the move by the Russian followed his rejection of an offer to buy a minority stake in the club by US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Abramovich ran into problems renewing his British visa earlier this year, which caused him to miss Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Manchester United in May.

Tensions between Britain and Russia grew this year after London accused Moscow of poisoning former double-agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in March. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning but wealthy Russians have been affected by the frosty relations between the two countries.

The billionaire withdrew is visa request after being granted Israeli citizenship in May.

Chelsea's directors have brought in Joe Ravitch from the Raine Group, a bank that specializes in sport and technology, the newspaper said without citing its sources.

The source at Chelsea, who declined to be identified, said: "The club is not for sale. The owner is not thinking of selling the club."

Separately, a spokesman for Abramovich in Moscow declined to comment on "market speculation."

Raine Group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Earlier this year Jim Ratcliffe, owner of chemicals giant Ineos, bid 2 billion pounds ($2.55 billion) to buy the club, which Abramovich also turned down, the Daily Mail reported.

Shortly after his visa issues, Chelsea said work on a new stadium in London would be suspended indefinitely, citing an unfavorable investment climate.

Chelsea FC embarked on a campaign against antisemitism in soccer in January, partnering with the World Jewish Congress and taking part in the March of the Living in Poland, among other initiatives.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.