Chelsea frozen, Roman Abramovich sanctioned: Can teams still play? How does it impact transfers, spending?!– OnMyWay Mobile App User News

Roman Abramovich has been an untouchable billionaire free to bankroll Chelsea’s unprecedented success for almost two decades, but that changed on Thursday morning. The U.K. government announced sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs with what it believes are close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s murderous regime, with the move following two weeks of intense pressure to act amid the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich — along with Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska, Dmitri Lebedev, Alexei Miller, Andrei Kostin and Nikolai Tokarev — has had his assets frozen and faces a ban on all transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses. Abramovich, who bought Chelsea for £140 million in 2003, has always denied links to Putin’s government, but the U.K. government offered a comprehensive and damning alternative view in a document accompanying the decision published by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.

“Abramovich is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades,” it read. “This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia.”

The decision, in place until May 31, directly impacts Chelsea, which has been frozen as an Abramovich asset in a manner he had previously tried to avoid by creating a degree of separation between himself and the club.

On Feb. 26, as criticism over a lack of sanctions began to focus on Abramovich, among others, he passed “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the trustees of the Blues’ charitable foundation. However, sources have told that as lawyers began to work out the details of this ambiguous term, fears quickly grew that it would not stand up to scrutiny were sanctions to arrive.

Amid skepticism from the trustees over whether the foundation was a suitable vehicle to run the club — reporting the situation to the Charity Commission for further clarification — and suspicion among Abramovich’s advisers that it would not be enough to insulate Chelsea from any punishment targeting the Russian, he put out a second statement on March 1 confirming the club would be put up for sale. Bidders have since circled — although sources told that no interested party has so far come close to matching Abramovich’s £3 billion valuation — but this government intervention casts a Chelsea sale and even the day-to-day running of the club into unprecedented uncertainty.

Chelsea, 117 years old on March 10, have won 21 trophies during Abramovich’s 19-year tenure — more than any other English club — but his ownership is coming to an ignominious end.


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