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Chelsea FC at risk amid sanctions on Russian oligarch Abramovich


Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s stadium can be seen through London trees, March 10, 2022. The UK’s assets freeze and travel ban imposed by the UK on Roman Abramovich (Russian owner) shattered his plans for selling European and international club champions.

Justin Tallis | Afp | Getty Images

Chelsea FC, one the most valued soccer clubs in Britain, faces uncertain times after Roman Abramovich (Russian oligarch) was hit with sanctions for his links with President Vladimir Putin.

The club’s proposed £3 billion sale ($3.9 billion), player transfers and merchandise sales have all been halted as part of the penalties imposedBritish authorities. Due to its connections with the Ukrainian war, major sponsors distanced themselves also from the club’s name.

According to the U.K., Abramovich had enjoyed “close relations” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and had received “preferential treatment” and “concessions” over the years from Moscow.

Along with six other oligarchs, he had his assets and travel restrictions restricted.

Chelsea is caught on guard

Roman Abramovichich, the owner of Chelsea waves at his fans after the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City FC & Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal on May 29, 2021.

Getty Images| Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

The club, based in London, was however caught off-guard on Thursday as it celebrated its 117th anniversary.

After the announcement, Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea FC manager, stated that Chelsea FC’s future was in doubt, and that he would continue to be at his current location while he awaits more information.

“We are taking it day by day,” said he to BBC Radio 5 Live. “I didn’t see it coming yesterday, and I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow,” he said.

CNBC did not receive a response from the club immediately to our request.

This is what it means to the club

Chelsea FC was rescinded by the Sanctions and is currently subject to an exclusive government license that regulates the activities and restrictions of the club.

Currently, the club can continue to play matches — as it did Thursday evening — and undertake “reasonable travel costs” up to a maximum of £20,000. Only season-ticket holders or those with purchased tickets will be permitted to attend.

The club cannot transfer, loan or lend players. Broadcast and prize money have also been frozen. Some staff members were partly laid off and the official Chelsea shop was closed on Thursday.

Martyn and Peter Hardiman, both 2 years, after Martyn purchased the last shirt for the club before it closed.

Stefan Rousseau – Pa Images | Pa Images | Getty Images

As for the ownership of the club, the government has said it will consider providing additional special dispensation to allow a sale to go through — as long as it does not benefit Abramovich.

It is unclear where the benefits of the sale, which could be more than £1 billion, would go, though observers suggest they could be donated to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The alternative — that Abramovich attempts to hold onto the club, likely resulting in a long, costly battle and potential further sanctions — appears unlikely given that he previously agreed to write off £1.5 billion in debts owed to him by the club and donate proceeds of the sale to the victims of the war in Ukraine.

Don’t let sponsors and partners go

Potential buyers are still interested in the club despite all of the turmoil surrounding it. According to reports, Nick Candy (British property tycoon) was one of those who offered bids.

Sponsors and commercial partners have distanced themselves from this once highly regarded club.

NikeFriday: reportedly considering walking away from a £900 million, 15-year deal agreed with Chelsea in 2016. Such a move could see the Stamford Bridge club miss out on £540 million.

Three British telecom network, the club’s main shirt sponsor, has confirmed that they are suspending its partnership worth an estimated £40 million a year.

These moves are a blow to the club, whose membership was at its lowest point in years. revenues rely largely on broadcastsDeals with commercial partners

Meanwhile, some are questioning the motives of foreign sponsors and owners of British Premier League teams.

“The Chelsea case is yet another example of why we need an independently regulated regulator with very tough owners’ testing,” commented Tracey Crouch, a British MP who headed a fan-led review on football governance.

Everton was last week suspended all sponsorship deals with the Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, another of Putin’s allies struck by sanctions.