It has been a seismic day in the history of Chelsea after their Russian owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government early on Thursday.
The decision to freeze the Blues owner’s assets, including his Premier League club based in west London, comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK Government says Abramovich has links to president Vladimir Putin, despite his denials.
Abramovich announced last week that he is looking to sell the club, but Thursday morning’s announcement means that process has been paused for now – and the ownership of the Blues is in the hands of the UK Government.
The big question is – now what? What lies ahead for Chelsea as a business and a community? What happens to the all-star squad that Abramovich helped assemble at Stamford Bridge? And can Abramovich still sell the club?
Sky Sports’ chief news reporter Kaveh Solhekol answers all the necessary questions below…
Why has the UK Government punished Roman Abramovich?
“For the past couple of weeks, the UK government have asked the National Crime Agency to find a link between Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin.
“They needed to prove beyond doubt that Abramovich was close to Putin, and obviously they have that evidence now and have been able to freeze his assets and issue such strong statements.
“We know for a fact Abramovich was involved in politics. He was a politician; he was basically a member of parliament in Russia, he was the governor of the Chukotka region until 2008.
Roman Abramovich pictured with Vladimir Putin in 2016
“Abramovich was close to former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. It was because of his relationship with Yeltsin that he grew to be so rich. We know that he was close to Putin.
“For his part, Abramovich has stressed that was all in the past, that he is not involved in politics anymore. Obviously, the UK government have looked have at the evidence and decided he is and that he is close to Putin, and in light of what Putin and Russia are doing in Ukraine, his assets have been frozen.”
So, what can and can’t Chelsea do?
“Sanctions on Abramovich have been imposed to stop him making any money but Chelsea have been given a licence for football-related activity to continue because they are a significant cultural asset.
“They can carry on playing games, their games can be shown on TV and they can continue to receive broadcast revenues. That means they can carry on paying wages and bills but they can’t give players new contracts.
“From today [Thursday], Chelsea cannot sell tickets to any games. So the only people who can go to Stamford Bridge and watch a game are those who have already purchased match tickets or season tickets.