All of Roman Abramovich’s UK-based assets have been frozen as of this morning, including Chelsea Football Club, which he was in the process of selling (well, Raine Group LLC were handling it, technically, for him).
With the assets frozen, the sale process has been put on hold as well, but according an exclusive from iNews, citing a government source, the sale could still go ahead “provided none of the proceeds benefit” Abramovich. This is part of the government’s intentions to continually review the specific details of the special license they granted to Chelsea to continue operating as (semi-)normal.
"This licence will only allow certain explicitly named actions to ensure the designated individual is not able to circumvent UK sanctions. The licence will be kept under constant review and we will work closely with the football authorities."— Simon Evans (@sgevans) March 10, 2022
This would effectively mean that the UK government take over the sales process itself, or at least provide close oversight, ensuring that whatever price is agreed goes directly into a frozen account — though Abramovich made it pretty clear that he didn’t want any money in return (and forgave the £1.5b debt as well), so hopefully the government would also do what Abramovich was set to do, that is to establish a fund benefiting the victims of the war in Ukraine.
We’ll see about the latter, but it sounds like we can avert sporting disaster at least by changing ownership of a club that’s part of a “culturally important institution”.
Exclusive: Chelsea CAN still be sold by Roman Abramovich provided none of the proceeds benefit the Russian oligarch, a government source has told @iPaperSport. Government will consider an application for a licence to sell. In dialogue with #CFC. https://t.co/x5nNx4N1Jv— Sam Cunningham (@samcunningham) March 10, 2022
“Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.
“To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.
“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the Government will work with the league & clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”
-Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary; source: iNews