Days after putting up Chelsea football club for sale, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his alleged link with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and his stake in Evraz Plc, which has been potentially supplying steel to the Russian military which may have been used in the production of tanks.
“Abramovich is associated with a person who is/has been involved in destabilising Ukraine & undermining/threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty & independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom (he) has had a close relationship for decades.” UK statement reads.
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UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, added: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine. Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.”
Here, we look are the implications of the sanction on Chelsea Football Club
Chelsea sale uncertain
Abramovich’s UK assets have been frozen, meaning he cannot sell Chelsea club. With potential buyers interested in purchasing the club. But Abramovich could still sell Chelsea club provided he does not receive the proceeds.
Match Ticket Sales
Chelsea has been given special dispensation to continue operation due to the club’s role in sport and society. Players and staff will continue to be paid, but the club cannot now sell additional tickets to those already sold.
Chelsea fans who have already bought tickets for upcoming matches can still attend. Likewise, visiting fans who have already bought tickets for Stamford Bridge can still go to the game. But no new transactions can be made, so only season-ticket holders will be eligible for games later in the season which have not yet gone on sale.
This throws the future of the club into doubt, with more to follow regarding the sanctioning.
Chelsea will still be able to receive money from existing Premier League TV deals, which will enable the club to pay its staff, but all incoming money will be frozen so that it cannot be withdrawn from the club.
Nadine Dorries, the secretary for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.
“Today’s sanctions have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club and the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.
“To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.
“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring the sanction hit those intended for. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”
UK government’s explanation of Chelsea’s licence says Chelsea can make “inter-club payments to discharge obligations which existed before 10 March 2022 under player loan/sale arrangements”.
This would indicate that only previously agreed payments can be made and received, meaning Chelsea are effectively under a transfer ban and that no new signings can be made either by transfer or loan.
Chelsea spent over £100m last summer, and if the sanctions remain until the summer transfer window that would effectively put them under a transfer embargo. Chelsea had been linked with Erling Haaland, along with both City and United, but would not be able to sign the Norwegian this summer as it stands.
It would also put into question whether fresh contracts can be offered to players whose deals expire at the end of the season, like captain Cesar Azpilicueta and fellow defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
The license expires on 31 May and the Treasury reserves the right to vary, revoke or suspend it at any time.
Abramovich’s wealth has helped transformed Chelsea into one of the most successful football clubs in the world since 2003. The team has won every trophy possible in Abramovich’s tenure as owner.