Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, throwing the Premier League club into the throes of turmoil and uncertainty.
Because the team is an asset of Abramovich, all activity regarding Chelsea is frozen. That means he cannot continue his pursuit to sell the team, which has received recent interest from Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.
“Abramovich is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilizing Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine,” a statement from the UK government read. “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 of Russia.”
Chelsea — one of the largest, most recognizable soccer teams on the planet — needed to obtain a special license from the government to continue playing matches through May 31, but it cannot sell any more home match tickets. Season-ticket holders and those who already possess tickets that were purchased prior to March 10 will be accepted into Stamford Bridge, the club’s home.
Travel costs will be limited, as will the amount available to pay security, catering, and hospitality employees for home matches. However, the team can still pay the salaries of all players and staff.
In terms of the club itself, Chelsea now cannot take part in the transfer market — which is closed until the summer — until this issue is resolved.
“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended,” UK minister of sport, Nadine Dorries, wrote on Twitter. “Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”
Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs that have been targeted by the UK government, including Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska, Dmitri Lebedev, Alexei Miller, Andrei Kostin, and Nikolai Tokarev.
The 55-year-old has owned the club for nearly two decades, catapulting them to new heights of success on the English and European stage. During his tenure as owner, Chelsea has won five Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions League crowns, five FA Cups, and two Europa League championships. Over the last 10 months, Chelsea added their second Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup trophy to its list of honors.