Chelsea heavily impacted as UK sanctions, freezes assets of Roman Abramovich

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The potential sale of Chelsea has been thrown into uncertainty, as owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government and his assets, including Chelsea Football Club, have been frozen.

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Chelsea have been given a special license (which runs out on May 31, 2022) to continue to operate as a club but they will not be able to buy and sell players, hand out new contracts to current players and benefit financially through merchandise, new ticket sales and many other avenues.

The UK government may ‘vary, revoke or suspend’ this license at any time, so there is the potential for the license to change in order for Chelsea to be sold but it appears the UK government will take over that process.

As of right now, the sale of the club is on hold as Abramovich was said to be close to selling Chelsea in the coming days for a reported fee of over $3 billion, as he previously said net profits would be donated to victims of the war in Ukraine.

A report from the Daily Telegraph says that Chelsea can still be sold, but only if no proceeds from the sale go to Roman  Abramovich.

The UK government released a list of sanctions against Roman Abramovich, and others, for his close association with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The UK state that “Roman Abramovich is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch” and that he has “had a close relationship with Vladimir Putin for decades.”

Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports understand that Chelsea and UK government officials will meet on Thursday, and Chelsea’s released a statement saying they will seek to be allowed to “operate as normal as possible.”

What has the UK government said?

Here is the statement from the UK government specifically on how this will impact Chelsea.

“Given the significant impact that today’s sanctions would have on Chelsea football club and the potential knock on effects of this, the Government has this morning published a license which authorises a number of football-related activities to continue at Chelsea. This includes permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football related activity which will in turn protect the Premier League, the wider football pyramid, loyal fans and other clubs.

“This license will only allow certain explicitly named actions to ensure the designated individual is not able to circumvent UK sanctions. The licence will be kept under constant review and we will work closely with the football authorities.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson added the following statement on the sanctions against Abramovich and other individuals.

“There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” Johnson said. “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.”

How will this impact Chelsea?

Under the special license issued for Chelsea to continue to operate, here are the main talking points, with more clarification to come:

  • Only season ticket holders can go to games at Stamford Bridge
  • Chelsea can’t sell tickets for away games
  • No player transfers allowed
  • No new contracts for current players allowed 
  • No merchandise sales allowed
  • Only $26,300 can be spent on travel costs for any Chelsea team travelling for a game
  • Costs limited to hosting games at Stamford Bridge to $657,000 to cover security, catering and stewarding

What has Chelsea said?

The European champions released this press release shortly after the sanctions were announced by the UK Goverment.

Chelsea Football Club has been advised that its owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK Government.

By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. However, the UK Government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities.

We will fulfil (sic) our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence. This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible. We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities.

The Club will update further when it is appropriate to do so.