December 4, 2022

Sanctions against Roman Abramovich mean Chelsea cannot sell match tickets

On Thursday, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as a result of his close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He is one of several high-profile Russians with interests in the UK who have been named in a government report and will have all of their assets frozen.

Roman Abramovich, whose net worth is estimated to be around $12.3bn, having his assets sanctioned means that Chelsea will be hit with several impositions that affect the club.

Abramovich, who was described by the UK government as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch”, confirmed last week that he has put Chelsea up for sale – with with net proceeds from the sale to be donated to “all victims of the war in Ukraine”. It is understood that the sale of the club can still go ahead, but the club will be restricted in many other areas.

A government document announcing the move to sanction him stated that Abramovich has had a “close relationship for decades” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the government of Russia,” it said.

Things Chelsea can still do:

  • Pay wages to players and staff
  • Pay fees, dividends or other allowances to directors of the Club except Roman Abramovich
  • Continue the payment necessary for the ongoing regular maintenance of the Club and the Club’s grounds, including rates, council tax, other taxes, insurance building safety inspection costs, energy costs and other maintenance costs associated with the maintenance of the Club’s ground and training grounds
  • Pay reasonable costs of travel to and from fixtures for players and essential staff including costs for security staff, travel agencies or contractors
  • Make payments for the hosting of fixtures up to £500k
  • Sell food and drink at home matches
  • Continue payments between clubs for existing loan and sale agreements
  • Receive fees from EFA, PL, and UEFA for performance
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Things Chelsea cannot do:

  • Sell merchandise provided by third parties
  • Produce new merchandise unless there is an existing agreement pre-sanction
  • Sell new tickets for home and away matches
  • Pay for new stadium works
  • Enter new loan or sale agreements for players

While the football side of Chelsea’s operations will be able to continue, the sanctioning means that the day-to-day running of the club will significantly change. Crucially, any fees the clubs receives must be frozen as part of the sanctions.

Chelsea can still play their Premier League match at Norwich City tonight, but the Russian owner can not sell the club. In order for Abramovich to sell the Blues, he would need to receive special dispensation from the Government – which is likely to be a protracted process.

It will also prevent the club from entering agreements for the transfer of players. This is likely to have a huge knock-on effect for the Blues, considering that Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen and César Azpilicueta all out of contract in the summer. Not only can they not sign any new players, but they cannot sell their current contracted players either.

The club’s supporters will also be affected by the sanction, with Chelsea no longer able to sell tickets to fans.

While season ticket holders will still be able to attend matches, and existing tickets will be honoured, the Blues have been banned from selling tickets to upcoming matches.

The club shop will be forced to close and fans will still be permitted to buy food and drink at the ground. The “special license” will also allow “staff to be paid.”

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While Chelsea will be able to continue playing matches, both home and away, the ‘Russia Regulations’ license also prohibits the Blues from spending more than £20,000 on any away game travel.

Considering Thomas Tuchel’s side are set to travel to Lille for their Champions League Round of 16 clash next Wednesday, it is unclear how the London outfit will logistically be able to get around that barrier.

For context, experienced player liaison officer Hugo Scheckter has explained that for a regular domestic away game, the logistics usually total £30k. An away trip to Europe will obviously cost more, meaning that to facilitate an away trip in the Champions League, the club will have to make significant cost cutting measures with regard to travel and accommodation.

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