It’s been a weird and confusing and dramatic first ever 24 hours of Chelsea Football Club’s history as a (semi-)“frozen asset”, so let’s try to make some sense of it based on what’s been reported and what has actually been published by the UK government.
You can find the full (and quite short) text of the “General Licence” issued by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) here: OFSI General licence - INT/2022/1327076. This allows Chelsea to remain in operation despite the sanctions levied on Roman Abramovich.
It should be noted that Chelsea have already made it clear that we want to engage with the government to amend these rules to allow for more reasonable operating conditions for the club (which the government claims is/was their intention). And the powers that be also claim to be open to such review and adjustments, as well as, reportedly, to oversee a transfer of ownership from Abramovich (without he himself receiving any proceeds of course).
We’ll see about all that. For now, here is what we can and cannot do. These rules are currently in place March 10, 2022 — May 31, 2022.
CAN DO (“Permissions”)
- Play games and go to games (if you already have a ticket, single or season), buy food and drink at the stadium
- Pay wages to all employees, including players, coaches, administrators — everyone at the club except Abramovich
- Pay “reasonable fees” to maintain club infrastructures, pay taxes, keep security. No specific limit.
- Pay “reasonable costs” to travel to/from games, not to exceed £20k per fixture per team
- Pay “reasonable costs” to run matchdays, not to exceed £500k per fixture per team
- Fulfill previously agreed (before March 10, 2022) transfer obligations and receive income from previously agreed transfer obligations (i.e. loan fees, monthly installments, conditional fees, etc)
- Receive broadcast fees (TV, both foreign and domestic, for all competitions), including performance-based ones (i.e. prize money). Any and all income is supposed to get immediately frozen, but it’s also what we’re expect to use to keep funding the club’s ongoing costs, so that doesn’t really make complete sense.
- Pay Abramovich, directly or indirectly, from or through any source
- Undertake any new infrastructure development or refurbishment
- Make any new transfer, incoming or outgoing
- Sign new contract extensions
- Sell new tickets, single game or season
- Sell any merchandise at official club stores
- Sell any new merchandise to third-party resellers. Third-party resellers who have existing stock can sell that off (as long as Chelsea or Abramovich receive no additional financial benefit from them).
Basically, if an agreement with a financial component was not in place prior to March 10, 2022, it’s not allowed. That’s the part, in addition to the sale process, that Chelsea need to get amended first and foremost, especially ticket sales and contract/transfer restrictions. They can be carried out without benefitting Abramovich, and can ensure that the club can continue existing and operating on and off the pitch (somewhat) normally in the next phase of our history.