Chelsea FC has entered uncharted waters: The United Kingdom government sanctioned team owner Roman Abramovich, seizing the team and putting its planned sale on hold.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire had his assets frozen by the Boris Johnson administration over his ties to Vladimir Putin. The oligarch has disputed the charges against him and said he has been involved in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
- The U.K. government stated the club would have a special license to meet obligations such as fulfilling fixtures and paying staff.
- Existing ticket holders and season-ticket holders will be able to go to games, but the club will not be able to sell new tickets for now.
- Abramovich faces a prohibition on transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses, as well as a travel ban.
- Abramovich was one of seven people sanctioned by the U.K. with an estimated $19.7 billion total asset hit.
Shares of Evraz, a Russian steel company of which Abramovich owns 29%, were suspended on the London Stock Exchange.
Sale in Limbo
Abramovich had been seeking to sell the club before sanctions hit, and around 20 potential bidders had expressed interest. None had reportedly met the billionaire’s asking price of $4 billion.
Chelsea also held a $2 billion debt to its owner, which Abramovich said he would waive when the club was sold.
The fate of the sale and that loan are now up in the air.