Russia-Ukraine War: UK seizes Chelsea from Abramovich, freezes other assets

EMERGENCY DIGEST- UK government has officially added Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to its list of sanctioned individuals.

Mr Abramovich is amongst a new list of seven Russian billionaires whom the British government has now sanctioned.

In the official document conveying the list of sanctioned individuals, it was stated that “Abramovich is associated with a person who is/has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining/threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom (he) has had a close relationship for decades.”

All of Abramovich’s assets in the UK have been frozen. Meanwhile, Chelsea will continue trading under a special dispensation, but the Russian billionaire will be unable to sell the club as he had planned.

Read also: 21 killed, scores injured as Russian forces shell Kharkiv city

Over 10 potential buyers have lined up bids to buy the club from Abramovich after he announced on March 2 that he would be selling it amidst the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Russia.

The sanctions will prevent those discussions from continuing and affect the club directly in different ways, including not being allowed to sell match day tickets until further notice. Season ticket holders will be allowed into Stamford Bridge, however.

An official statement released by the UK government noted that given the significant impact that “today’s sanctions would have on Chelsea football club and the potential knock-on effects of this,” it published a licence authorising “a number of football-related activities to continue at Chelsea.”

This includes permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football-related activities.

“This licence will only allow specific explicitly named actions to ensure the designated individual is not able to circumvent UK sanctions,” explained the British government. “The licence will be kept under constant review, and we will work closely with the football authorities.”

Nadine Dorries, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, stressed that the steps were taken to ensure the club continues to compete and operate 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 and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended,” added Ms Dorries. “Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”

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