The British Government has confirmed that it is open to selling Chelsea despite the sanctions placed on the club’s owner Roman Abramovich.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Government called Abramovich a ‘pro-Kremlin oligarch’ and said that the Russian billionaire has ‘had a close relationship for decades’ with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich’s assets in the UK have now been frozen as part of the sanctions, while Chelsea have been issued with a ‘general licence’ which heavily restricts the club’s operations and prevents them from selling tickets to fans, signing new players or agreeing new contracts for existing members of the squad.
Last week, Abramovich officially put the club up for sale with a £3 billion asking price and several potential investors quickly registered their interest.
But the latest sanction means that Abramovich will now receive nothing for selling Chelsea.
However, the Government has announced that Chelsea’s sale could still go through despite Abramovich having his assets frozen.
‘We would have to grant a further licence,’ a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Reuters.
‘I think it is fair to say the government is open to the sale of the club, but … currently, it would require another licence and that would require a further conversation with the Treasury.
‘The principle has been to mitigate the impact on fans …, these measures are designed to punish those close to Putin.’
Chelsea’s strongest offer appeared to have come from a Swiss-American consortium, spearheaded by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and US tycoon Todd Boehly, who owns parts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers.
However, it’s understood that investors were reluctant to meet Abramovich’s £3bn asking price due to the cost required to redevelop Stamford Bridge, which is estimated to be in the region of £2.2bn.
When announcing the decision to sell Chelsea last week, Abramovich claimed that he would write off the £1.5bn debt which the club owes him and would donate all net proceedings to victims of the war in Ukraine.