Chelsea can still be sold by Roman Abramovich provided none of the proceeds benefit the Russian oligarch.
While the bombshell sanctions hit Abramovich mean his assets have been frozen, an application for a licence to sell the club would be considered, Government sources have told i.
The Government has been in contact with Chelsea and the Premier League and remains in dialogue with them to ensure the football club can remain operational In sanctioning Abramovich, 55, the Government said that he “has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermined and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”.
But a sale could still proceed as long as it was clear that Abramovich did not benefit in any way from it. Accounts will be closely monitored by Government officials.
Abramovich has previously indicated that any net profits of a sale of the club would go into a charity that would support victims of the war in Ukraine, although he did not specify if money would go to Russians. It remains to be seen, however, if prospective buyers will still want to bid for the club at the current time. Potential investors will be assessing their options.
A number of restrictions have been imposed on Chelsea while Abramovich remains sanctioned, including the inability to sell future tickets to matches. While under Abramovich’s ownership, the club can also no longer sell merchandise, buy players or offer new contracts.
“Putin’s attack on Ukraine continues and we are witnessing new levels of evil by the hour,” Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, said on Thursday. “Today the Government has announced further sanctions against individuals linked to the Russian Government. This list includes Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.
“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 & 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.”