English Premier League football club Chelsea will not be able to sell new tickets to matches following the sanctioning of Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK Government due to his close ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Putin ordered the invasion of neighbouring country Ukraine on February 24 and a number of sanctions have been placed on the country and on those believed to be close to the Russian president.
This means that Abramovich’s assets have been frozen and he can no longer proceed with the sale of the club, which he had announced last week. It also means that the club can no longer sell match tickets, with only existing season ticket holders allowed to attend games.
A special license has been granted by the Government in order for this to happen, which also allows fixtures to be fulfilled and staff to be paid. The London club’s merchandise store will also be closed.
Season ticket holders will also be able to purchase food while attending football matches at Chelsea’s home ground, Stamford Bridge (pictured). Finances associated with running the club will also be unaffected – such as various taxes, insurances, travel, catering, stewarding and security – thanks to the special license.
An official document from the UK Government’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation within the Treasury said: “Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch. Abramovich is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades.”
UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries reassured Chelsea fans that the sanctions would not put the future of the club at risk.
In a tweet, Dorries said: “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 and 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.”
Chelsea said in a statement: “We will fulfil our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence. This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the club to operate as normal as possible. We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities.”