The Chelsea sale has been put on hold as former club owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Irish Examiner reported.
An updated sanctions list, released Thursday, describes Abramovich as a pro-Kremlin oligarch, hitting him with an asset freeze and a travel ban.
The government document notes his close ties with the Russian government for decades, the Irish Examiner said.
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As per the document, “This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia”.
While freezing Abramovich’s assets effectively bars the sale of Chelsea, which went on the market at the beginning of March, the London football club will be provided with a “special license”, confirmed UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries, as per the Irish Examiner.
This will allow the Premier League club to compete in upcoming fixtures, pay the staff, and also let existing ticket holders attend matches.
Abramovich stepped down from his role as club owner when the British government focused on individual sanctions against Russian oligarchs in a pushback against the Ukraine invasion.
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The oligarch also released an official statement, saying, “During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the Club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities. I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC”, and added, “I believe that currently, they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans”.
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Notably, Abramovich set a £3 billion tag on the club and Sky Sports reported that the Todd Boehly-Hansjorg Wyss consortium is most likely to pay the asking price after the LA Dodgers part-owner teamed up with the Swiss billionaire.