Roman Abramovich sanctions: How Chelsea are affected

The UK government has placed sanctions on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and six other Russian oligarchs, it has been confirmed.

The government had been under growing pressure to sanction Abramovich in recent weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer questioned why Prime Minister Boris Johnson had not sanctioned the billionaire during last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions session. It is alleged that Abramovich has strong ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich has always denied these claims.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, meanwhile, presented a leaked Home Office document to the House of Commons on the week of the invasion. At the time of writing in 2019, it states that Abramovich was of interest to the UK government because of his “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices”.

Last week, Abramovich announced he was putting Chelsea up for sale. In a statement on the club’s official website, he said that the decision was “in the best interests of the Club”.

Several bidders have since come forward. They include LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly.

With Roman Abramovich now the subject of sanctions, he has not sold Chelsea Football Club. What are the sanctions? And what does this mean for the Blues?

What sanctions has Roman Abramovich been given?

The UK government have placed several sanctions on Roman Abramovich. They include asset freezes and travel bans.

As reported by BBC News, the government says that Abramovich is “one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin”.

The government have also stated that Abramovich faces a “prohibition on transactions with UK individuals and businesses”.

How will Chelsea be affected?

On a sporting level, attention will immediately turn to Chelsea Football Club.

The critical point to note was made by lawyers, as reported by iNews, last week. They claim that as long as Abramovich has a shareholding in the club, it will be considered a UK asset that can be frozen.

With the sanctions now applied to Roman Abramovich, all his UK assets have been frozen, including Chelsea.

Furthermore, the first significant impact that will have on the club is on its sale. That is because it is now on hold. The club has been seized from Abramovich. However, The Telegraph reports that the club can still be sold if the process is handed over to the UK government.

In addition, Chelsea must now operate under a special license. However, the club cannot sell tickets to home fans or away fans. Furthermore, only current season ticket holders will be able to enter the stadium, of which there are around 28,000.

The government has allowed Chelsea to continue playing matches because of its status as “a significant cultural asset”. As per the Daily Mirror, player and staff salaries are not affected.

On the transfer front, Chelsea will not be able to conclude any transfer deals for new players. It is also being reported that they cannot renew contracts. That means the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen could leave the club on free transfers. Long-serving centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta is in the same position. His deal expires this summer.

The sanctions will be in place from Chelsea’s next Premier League game at Stamford Bridge. They take on Norwich City at Carrow Road on Thursday.

What has been said?

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: “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 benefitting 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 sanctions hit those intended.

“Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”

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