“There was a very clear direction from him to say use funds, use the club, use the platform, use whatever you need to try to give back to the community,” says Rola Brentlin, head of special projects at Chelsea.
“There were a few very obvious causes, so the NHS, we started giving up the hotel and things like that.
“But the more we researched, domestic abuse kept coming up as a subject because there were some very worrying reports at the beginning of the pandemic.”
And so began a relationship with the charity Refuge, which saw Chelsea raise more than £500,000 in donations – and will see them look into more ways to help women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
As a result, Chelsea have been nominated for the Community Project of the Year award at the London Football Awards.
Arsenal and AFC Wimbledon have also been shortlisted.
Refuge supports around 6,500 women and children on a daily basis, including providing emergency accommodation and community outreach.
Abramovich demonstrated his own commitment to the cause by matching the funds raised by the club, which is what took the figure to more than £500,000.
Chelsea Women’s team also showed their generosity by donating their £100,000 prize money for winning the Women’s Super League (WSL).
And supporters got involved too, with many season-ticket holders donating refunds received for games played behind closed doors.
Brentlin says it is an important cause for Chelsea to get behind.
“If you think of what’s been happening, you have women and children basically being trapped during lockdown in their homes and being abused,” she adds. “The situation was bad for them before the lockdown, but imagine what it means to these women that they now can’t leave their homes.
“So, many women have had to be rescued, moved out. These are traumatic experiences and it is also a life-saving operation. Some of these women need to get out before they get killed. That is the honest truth.
“It is very important for Refuge that the message and support is also coming from men, not just from women. This is not an issue for women to solve, it’s for all of society for both men and women.
“We called for an appeal among our fans to support the cause. It was really interesting to see how much the fans responded to this campaign.
“It was a difficult time for a lot of people, so anyone giving anything during this time is a really big thing.”
To watch the London Football Awards — streamed directly to you on Tuesday, April 27 from 7pm — visit londonfootballawards.org