Roman Abramovich: Sanctioning of Chelsea owner by UK government halts club’s sale

Roman Abramovich’s attempt to sell Chelsea has been halted after the oligarch was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian put the European champions up for sale after the threat of sanctions was raised in Parliament.

The freezing of Abramovich’s assets, which include Chelsea, means the club cannot sell further match tickets.

The move is intended to stop Abramovich making money from Chelsea.

The government has issued a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket-holders to attend matches.

Season-ticket holders can still attend games for which they have tickets but the club cannot now sell any more tickets.

Chelsea will also be unable to buy or sell players, or offer new contracts, while the sanctions are imposed on Abramovich. Chelsea’s owned players who are on loan at other clubs will be able to continue to play for those clubs.

The London club’s merchandise shop has also been shut.

The government is open to considering a further addition to the special licence which will allow the sale of the club.

A condition for that to happen would be that Abramovich – one of Russia’s richest people who is believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin – receives no funds.

He has previously said that proceeds of any sale would be donated to victims of war.

On Wednesday, there were 20 credible interested parties looking at a potential Chelsea takeover. Among them was British businessman Nick Candy.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said the government is “committed to protecting” the club.

“Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities,” she tweeted. 

“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended.”

Dorries later told BBC Sport: “Abramovich has links to Putin, who is mounting a barbaric and evil attack against the people of Ukraine. We in this department stand with the people of Ukraine and I’m afraid sanctions have consequences. Abramovich’s actions have consequences too.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s shirt sponsor, telecommunications company Three, has placed the deal under review.

What does the special licence mean for Chelsea?

  • Chelsea are able to pay the wages of all employees, including players and coaching staff
  • They can pay “reasonable” costs of travel to and from fixtures but not exceeding £20,000 per game per team
  • They can pay “reasonable” costs towards hosting home fixtures, not exceeding £500,000 per fixture per team
  • Fans who bought season tickets or individual match tickets before 10 March 2022 can attend games
  • Rights-holding broadcasters can broadcast any fixture involving the club

Read the whole story on BBC

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