What Roman Abramovich's sanctions mean for Chelsea
The government has announced sanctions against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, after the Russian had recently announced plans to listen to offers for the Premier League club
Chelsea face an uncertain future after the government Roman Abramovich has been added to its list of sanctioned individuals.
The most immediate impact concerns the sale of the club, with the Russian's proposed sale put on hold as his assets are frozen.
Abramovich had issued a statement confirming his plans to sell up, with a bid coming in from a consortium led by American businessman Todd Boehly, but no sale had been announced before the government's actions.
The Blues will be permitted to continue playing games, with a government spokesperson saying: Given the significant impact that today’s sanctions would have on Chelsea football club and the potential knock on effects of this, the Government has this morning published a licence which authorises a number of football-related activities to continue at Chelsea."
However, the impact on supporters is already being felt, with the club forbidden from selling match tickets for the time being.
"Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea & its fans," said Nadine Dorries, secretary of state for culture, media and sport.
"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."
While Chelsea are permitted to continue playing games, the measures mean they are not permitted to sell more tickets for their games.
This means season tickets will still be able to attend games at Stamford Bridge, but tickets for the home end will not be available to purchase. Tickets already sold are believed to remain valid, and reports from the New York Times' Tariq Panja suggest there is some possibility for away fans to be allowed through the gates.
Food and drink purchases inside the stadium are believed to remain unaffected by the changes, even as limits are placed on who is permitted to attend matches.
As reported by The Times ' Steven Swinford, "[The] club can pay players and staff, pay for travel to and from games =, pay director fees & cover costs of security, catering and stewarding - but that's it".
It is unclear at this stage how the restrictions would impact FA Cup ticket sales if the London club beat Middlesbrough in their quarter-final game and progress to the semi-finals at neutral Wembley Stadium.
The Blues' club shop has also reportedly been closed amid the sanctions, though at the time of writing the Blues' online megastore remains accessible.
Beyond this season, a ban on new transfers and contracts threatens to impact Chelsea's on-pitch future.
Defenders Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are all out of contract at the end of the season, and the trio had already feared being left in limbo amid the uncertainty over the ownership of the club
The club are also believed to be unable to hand out new deals to 17 and 18-year-olds in their academy while the uncertainty remains.
However, according to Get French Football News, an agent representing one of the Blues' players has questioned whether preventing players from leaving Stamford Bridge would be permitted under employment law.
“How can they ban the club from selling players?" the agent said.
"Surely there are employment law implications for players who were due to leave now essentially being trapped?”
"[The] owner of Chelsea FC sees his assets frozen, a prohibition on transactions with UK individuals and businesses, a travel ban and transport sanctions imposed," a UK government statement announcing the sanctions reads.
"Abramovich’s one time business partner, leading industrialist Oleg Deripaska, also sanctioned with the same measures."
The statement describes Abramovich as "one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin.".
The Chelsea owner has denied links with Putin, though the extent of his relationship with the Russian president has come under increased scrutiny in the light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.