UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today targeted seven Russian oligarchs who “have supported [Vladimir] Putin’s invasion” of Ukraine with fresh sanctions – including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Announcing the news via his official Twitter account, the measures will effectively seize Abramovich’s UK assets, with Chelsea football club being among them.
Worth around £9 billion, the Russian brought Chelsea back in 2003, ushering in a new era of big money in football. The Blues would go on to lift the Premier League and FA Cup five times, as well as the Champions League on two separate occasions during Abramovich’s reign.
Nevertheless, his alleged close ties to Russian President Putin gave the UK government little option but to impose sanctions, which could have a profound impact on Chelsea Football Club.
There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s invasion.
Today’s sanctions are the latest step in our ruthless pursuit of those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of Ukraine.https://t.co/VCwRnsvEps pic.twitter.com/1cj2XVVpWi
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 10, 2022
Chelsea, meanwhile, have been offered a special licence to continue with “football-related activities”, but the new sanctions on the club could still have a crippling effect.
As The Times report, the reigning champions of Europe won’t be able to renew contracts, sign new players, or sell new tickets to home matches for the foreseeable future.
With Abramovich selling a 73% stake in Russian oil firm Sibneft to state-owned gas titan Gazprom for £9.87 billion in 2005, his ties to the Kremlin are well established. As the UK government announcement states: “He [Abramovich] is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin.”
“Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said of the government’s actions.
“The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame. Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.”