Breaking: Roman Abramovich decision made by UK government to block sale of Chelsea

Breaking: Roman Abramovich decision made by UK government to block sale of Chelsea

Roman Abramovich has been added to the UK government’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with all of the 55-year-old’s assets including Chelsea Football Club frozen with immediate effect.

The club will be allowed to continue functioning with restrictions under a special sporting licence that expires at the end of May but its sale has been blocked and the owner will no longer be permitted to invest.

Among many consequences for the club under the “Russia Regulations” licence, any prize money earned will be frozen and supporters will not be allowed to attend away games.

Players and staff will continue to be receive their salaries and monies owed to clubs will be repaid.

But there are questions over next week’s Champions League trip to Lille because a cap of £20,000 has been placed on travel costs. The club were meant to travel by private plane.

Chelsea was put up for sale last Wednesday as Abramovich sought to sever ties with the UK.

The threat of sanctions had been hovering for more than a fortnight with calls from parliament for the oligarch to be added to the government list.

Abramovich has long denied any association with Russian president Vladimir Putin but the government has now stated explicitly that he has been an associate “for decades”.

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The sanction said: “[Abramovich] is 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. This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the government.”

The 55-year-old, who bought Chelsea in 2003, had been looking to sell the club quickly and a deadline of March 15 had been set for interest to be registered.

A number of parties had registered their interest, including one formal bid from a consortium led by US billionaire Todd Boehly.

As long as Abramovich is on the sanctions list, the club’s ownership can not change hands.

In a statement released confirming the club was up for sale last Wednesday, Abramovich said: “I would like to address the speculation in the media over the past few days in relation to my ownership of Chelsea FC.

“As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.

“The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process. I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.

“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.

“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the club.

“I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart.”

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