Roman Abramovich’s hopes of receiving money from Chelsea’s sale are over after the UK Government announced that his assets have been frozen as part of its sanctions against Russia.
The Russian billionaire, who bought Chelsea for £140 million in 2003, put the club up for sale last week and quickly received interest from several investors.
But the Government announced on Thursday that Abramovich ‘is now a designated person and therefore subject to financial sanctions. This means all funds and economic resources belonging to, held or controlled directly or indirectly by this person are required to be frozen immediately.’
In its statement, the Government said: ‘Abramovich is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch.
Abramovich associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades.’
Following the sanctions against Abramovich, Chelsea have been issued with a ‘general licence’ which allows the club to operate under restrictions which will have a huge impact on many connected with the club.
The licence currently runs until May 31 2022, but the Government can vary, revoke or suspend it at any time.
ABRAMOVICH SELLING CHELSEA
Abramovich had instructed Raine Group, a New York merchant bank, to handle the sale of Chelsea.
It’s understood that Abramovich was asking for at least £3 billion, while several investors around the world had registered their interest
The strongest bid looked to have come from a Swiss-American consortium, spearheaded by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and US tycoon Todd Boehly, who owns parts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers.
But all negotiations with Abramovich are off the table as Chelsea’s owner is now unable to sell following the sanction imposed on him.
A UK Government source told The Times: ‘He will not get a penny from the sale of the club.’
However, Chelsea can still be sold if Abramovich allows the Government to oversee the process and does not receive any financial benefit as a result.
Chelsea’s commercial activities have been heavily restricted as part of the sanctions, which will have a huge impact on supporters.
New ticket sales for home and away games are not permitted, meaning that only season ticket holders will be able to attend matches.
Away fans who have already purchased tickets will also be able to attend games at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea can continue to play their fixtures for the rest of the season and they have at least 12 games remaining in all competitions, with the possibility of more in the Champions League and FA Cup.
As part of the general licence issued to Chelsea by the Government in response to the sanctions, the club are still allow to spend ‘reasonable costs of travel to and from fixtures by any of the club teams for players and essential staff’.
Chelsea have also been permitted to spend ‘reasonable costs necessary for the club to host fixtures at its home ground or grounds including security, catering and stewarding’.
Chelsea were already facing a dilemma ahead of the summer as Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen all see their contract expire at the end of the season.
All three players have attracted interest from several clubs in the Premier League and across Europe, and Chelsea have been unable to reach agreements over new deals.
Chelsea have been in discussions with all three players over the last few months but as a result of the sanctions, the club are now unable to offer new contracts to Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen or any other player whose deal runs out this summer.
The Government has confirmed that the wages of the players and coaching staff will continue to be paid while the sanctions are in place.
The summer transfer window is set to look a lot different for Chelsea following Abramovich’s sanction.
Last summer, the club broke their transfer record with the £97.5 million signing of Romelu Lukaku, while Saul Niguez also arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid.
But the current restrictions mean that Chelsea are now unable to sign players until the sanctions are lifted.