Explained: What does the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich mean for Chelsea?

Explained: What Does The Sanctioning Of Roman Abramovich Mean For Chelsea?
The UK government has imposed sanctions on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as 'a person who is/has been involved in destabilising Ukraine'. Photo: PA
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By Nick Purewal, PA

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government on Thursday, putting the Stamford Bridge club’s future into doubt.

Here, we look at what has happened and what is next for the Blues.


What has happened to Abramovich?


The UK government has imposed sanctions on Abramovich as “a person who is/has been involved in destabilising Ukraine”, in the wake of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine. Boris Johnson’s government believes Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich has had a “close relationship for decades” with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Abramovich has always denied those links.

What does that mean for Chelsea?

Chelsea would have been frozen just like Abramovich’s other UK assets, but for a special licence granted by the government to allow the Stamford Bridge club to keep operating.


What’s in store for Chelsea’s future?


Abramovich put the club up for sale on March 2nd, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A sale could still happen despite the sanctions against Abramovich however, but that will require special government dispensation.

So how would a sale of Chelsea work now?

Nick Candy File Photo
British billionaire Nick Candy, pictured, is among those who were preparing bids to buy Chelsea (Philip Toscano/PA)

The UK government has said it remains “open” to the possibility of a Chelsea sale, but that would require Treasury approval for a new licence. Most of the existing interested parties are expected to continue their candidacies. Abramovich would not be allowed to profit from the sale. The 55-year-old had pledged to donate all proceeds of the Chelsea sale to a new charitable foundation to benefit the victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The government could either oversee a sale entirely, with funds frozen or diverted to a charitable scheme. Or Abramovich could be allowed to continue with a sale, but that would require heavy conditions and oversight.

Can Chelsea keep playing matches?

Thomas Tuchel FIle Photo
Thomas Tuchel, pictured, must face up to further off-field uncertainty in the battle to keep his Chelsea players focused (Nick Potts/PA)

Yes. The Blues will press on with their fixtures, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Chelsea are seeking amendments to the UK government’s operating licence to allow for as close to normal function as possible.

What about transfers?

Cesar Azpilicueta file photo
Cesar Azpilicueta, pictured is among those facing an even more uncertain future at Chelsea (Adam Davy/PA)

Chelsea currently cannot sign any players, nor can they complete new contracts for existing stars. This leaves senior players Cesar Azpilicueta, Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen in something of a limbo situation, with the contracts for all three expiring this summer. Barcelona are confident of completing a free-transfer deal for Christensen at the end of the season, and have also made strong overtures towards Azpilicueta. Rudiger had been thought to be close to a new Chelsea deal before Abramovich’s decision to sell the club, but recent events have thrown everything up in the air.

How will this affect supporters?

Chelsea FC – Stamford Bridge – Roman Abramovich Sanctioned
Chelsea’s club shop, pictured, was closed by mid-morning on Thursday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Beyond concerns for the club’s very future, in the immediate term fans cannot now buy any new tickets to watch Chelsea. Season ticket holders can attend matches at Stamford Bridge, and tickets sold before March 10th will be honoured. But no new sales will be possible. A similar situation has arisen with merchandise, with Chelsea’s club shop at Stamford Bridge closed midway through Thursday morning.

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