March 10, 2022

U.K. Sanctions Strike Chelsea Football Club Owner

On March 10, 2022, the U.K. announced sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska.

The seven sanctioned individuals are:

  • Roman Abramovich, Owner of Chelsea Football Club and with holdings in steel producer Evraz and Norilsk Nickel
  • Oleg Deripaska who has holdings in En+ Group
  • Igor Sechin, Chief Executive of Rosneft
  • Andrey Kostin, Chairman of VTB bank
  • Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom
  • Nikolai Tokarev, President of Russian state-owned pipeline company Transneft
  • Dmitri Lebedev, Chairman of Bank Rossiya

The sanctions applicable to Abramovich include freezing all of his U.K. assets, a prohibition on transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses, a travel ban and transport sanctions. The full implications for Chelsea Football Club are unclear, however, the U.K. government has issued a license authorizing football-related activities at the club to continue, including playing matches and paying staff. While Abramovich remains owner of the club, existing ticketholders will be able to attend matches, but the club cannot sell further tickets or merchandise, buy players or offer new contracts.

The U.K. government stated that it intends to avoid impacting the Premier League and the wider game while also preventing Abramovich from circumventing the U.K.’s sanctions. It also stated that the terms of the license permitting football-related activities would be kept under constant review.

Abramovich had previously announced plans to sell the club for £3 billion. Previously, up to 10 bidders have indicated an interest in acquiring the club, it remains to be seen if bidders will want to continue the process. The sale would still be able to go ahead if Abramovich applies for a special license, however, the U.K. government has indicated that any such license would only be considered if Abramovich would not benefit financially from the sale.

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