Abramovich announced this month that he plans to sell Chelsea, as it is “in the interest of the club, the fans and staff as well as the club’s sponsors and partners”. This came after he announced that he had given “oversight” of the club to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth Office and Development Office said in a statement on Thursday that the new sanctions would lead to a freeze on his assets and would ban “transactions with UK individuals and businesses”. The billionaire will also face a travel ban preventing him from entering the UK.
Existing season ticket holders will be allowed to attend matches as well as fans who purchased tickets before Thursday.
Fans can buy food and drink in these matches, according to the statement, and under the sanctions, outside retailers who have purchased or produced club merchandise before Thursday will be allowed to sell their existing stock as long as no money is given to Chelsea. . For now, the special license runs through May 31.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust – an independent, not-for-profit fund set up to “encourage” the club’s board of directors to “take into account the interests of all supporters” among other purposes – has expressed “concern” about the move.
“The Committee on Science and Technology is appealing to the government for a swift process to reduce uncertainty about Chelsea’s future, and for fans and fans to be awarded a gold share as part of the sale of the club.”
Repercussions for Chelsea – and its players
Ben Beebe, sports commercial expert at JMW Solicitors, told CNN Sport that unless the UK government provides a new license, Chelsea cannot be sold.
“Abramović will not be allowed to put any money in the club or withdraw any money from the club. As we know, he has financed Chelsea with billions of pounds and has a 1.5 billion pound ($1.98 billion) loan from Chelsea which he currently owes to Abramovich.”
“We don’t currently know where the money that will be paid to players is coming from – whether it’s just coming from some kind of day-to-day business, ie broadcast revenue and commercial revenue. It’s clear that match-day revenue contributes to that, and we know that new tickets can’t be sold. It can’t sell new merchandise that benefits the club or Abramovich – it can only benefit retailers.”
This could have major repercussions for the club, which is already seeing sponsors considering their contracts with Chelsea.
The mobile phone and communications company, which sponsors the Chelsea shirt, said in a statement that it had asked the club to temporarily suspend its sponsorship of the club. The company told CNN earlier on Thursday that it was reviewing its position with Chelsea after the British government imposed sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich.
“In light of the government’s recently announced sanctions, we have asked Chelsea Football Club to temporarily suspend our sponsorship of the club, including removing our branding from shirts and around the stadium until further notice,” Three said in a statement.
“We are aware that this decision will affect many Chelsea fans who follow their team with enthusiasm. However, we feel that given the circumstances and government sanctions in place, it is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, car giant Hyundai, Chelsea’s official partner since 2018, said it was “assessing the situation” following the news.
A Hyundai spokesperson told CNN: “Hyundai has become one of the strongest partners in football over the years, and the company supports the sport to be a force for good. We are currently assessing the situation with Chelsea FC.”
The Hyundai logo appears on the shirt sleeves of the men’s and women’s teams right up to the academy teams, and the current four-year deal is set to expire this year.
“If Mr. Abramovich can’t fund the club, and you also have other sources of commercial revenue coming into the club that will now start to dry up basically due to the sanctions being imposed, the long-term repercussions are very significant if there is no sale,” Pepe said.
He added that although Chelsea could negotiate with potential buyers, the club could not be sold until a special license had been granted.
“If they don’t generate any matchday commercial revenue, and won’t be able to draw on shareholder loans, where will the money come from to support the club?
“I am expecting to find a new owner. But it will be a very different sale than it looked like, until last week.”
Pepe said the sanctions would also have repercussions for Chelsea players.
“Immediate short-term players whose contracts run out means that those players are entitled to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season because they are out of contract.”
For players who have contracts after the end of the season, nothing will change until May 31, Peppi said.
In the long term, he said, “It goes into this broader and broader topic about the kind of cultural, political and social impact of football as being much stronger than it has ever been.
“And will the players want to sign for Chelsea – for a club like Chelsea, a club like Newcastle – knowing the volatility of the situation in relation to the football club’s ownership structure?”
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was not worried about the British government’s recent sanctions against Abramovich, but acknowledged the “hype” surrounding the team.
“I’m not sure I’m worried but I’m aware of it. It changes almost every day… I’m still happy to be here and I’m still happy to be the manager of a strong football team.”
Abramovich is valued at 9.4 billion pounds ($12.36 billion), according to the UK government.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said this month that the UK was “absolutely intent” on punishing Russian oligarchs, adding that the UK was working through “another list” of oligarchs to punish them.
“There is nowhere for any of Putin’s friends to hide,” Truss said.
Separately, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem announced, Thursday, that it had suspended its “strategic partnership” with Abramovich, after he announced last month that the billionaire pledged to fund “his endeavours in the fields of Holocaust research and memorialization.”
The donation was to help support the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research for five years and build a new building for it. Additionally, the donation would have created “two new editions of the Unique Memorial Book of Names for Holocaust Victims,” according to Yad Vashem’s announcement at the time.
CNN’s George Ramsey, David Close, Jacob Leafs, Alex Klusuk and Hadas Gould contributed to the report.
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