Chelsea owner Abramovich added to UK sanctions list

Will Ford
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been added to the UK sanctions list following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale last week, with a number of parties said to be interested in buying the club.

But the news that the Russian oligarch has been sanctioned by the UK government will hamper his plans.

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All of Abramovich’s assets – including Chelsea Football Club – have been frozen.

Chelsea will be given a special licence to continue operation, but the sale of the club is now on hold, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities.

Chelsea will continue playing fixtures due to its status as a ‘significant cultural asset’, but only season ticket holders will be allowed to attend games.

The club will not be able to sign transfers or agree any new contracts, but existing staff and players will still be paid and catering services provided at matches.

The shape of Chelsea’s long-term future has naturally been thrown into doubt, but Government ministers were quick to insist any damage would be limited.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said on Twitter: “Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

“Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & 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 sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”

Chelsea are stuck with the sanctions until May 31, when the license expires, and the HM Treasury may ‘vary, revoke or suspend the license at any time’.

British billionaire Nick Candy was the latest high-profile business magnate to throw their hat into the ring for Chelsea’s sale, amid a host of suitors for the Champions League holders.

Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly were also in the running, with more than 10 credible parties understood to have been compiling bids.

The Chelsea squad will continue to prepare for Thursday’s Premier League clash at Norwich as normal, but everyone at the club will now set about examining the details of the current situation.