What Roman Abramovich’s sanctions mean for Chelsea

Abramovich has bankrolled the most successful era in the Blues’ history since taking charge in 2003 — the club have won five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues among 19 major trophies.

What Roman Abramovich's sanctions mean for Chelsea

Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The government believes the billionaire has had a “close relationship for decades” with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, links Abramovich has always denied.

Chelsea, who are in Premier League action against Norwich later on Thursday, have been given a special licence to continue to operate but nevertheless face tough restrictions. They said they would seek talks with the government to amend the licence to “allow the club to operate as normal as possible.”

The current licence given to the club to allow their day-to-day operations to continue is due to expire on May 31, after the end of the season.

What Roman Abramovich's sanctions mean for Chelsea

Chelsea’s men won away at Norwich in the Premier League on Thursday while Chelsea’s women were victorious at West Ham in the Women’s Super League at the same time.

Season-ticket holders will still be able to attend games at Stamford Bridge as normal, while match tickets sold before 10 March will be honoured.

But beyond that, supporters cannot buy any new tickets to watch Chelsea.

Tickets were due to go on sale for the FA Cup quarter-final tie at Middlesbrough on 19 March but a post on the club’s official website on Thursday confirmed that would no longer happen as planned.

While the sanctions are in place, Chelsea are effectively under a transfer ban and are unable to buy or sell players.

They are also unable to negotiate new contracts for the players they currently own, so leaves an uncertain future for those whose current deals expire in the summer.

Within hours of the announcement that Abramovich had been sanctioned by the UK government, Chelsea’ main shirt sponsors suspended their £40m-a-year deal with the club.

What Roman Abramovich's sanctions mean for Chelsea
Mobile network provider Three had been Chelsea’s official partner since 2020.

It is unclear whether any of Chelsea’s other sponsorship deals are at risk at this stage. In the short term, it’s to a large extent business as usual. Chelsea will be able to pay wages due at the end of March and will have other overheads.

Chelsea’s wage bill is round about £28m a month. We don’t know how much cash they have in the bank. The most recent accounts we have are from June 2021 when there was £16m in the bank. Abramovich has been injecting money into Chelsea on a regular basis over recent years and presumably that won’t be able to continue.

The concern might be what happens if Chelsea’s cash reserves are insufficient to pay their wage bill – but presumably the government and Premier League, who have been working on this, will have been looking at it to try to minimise disruption on a club level.

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