Tuesday, May 28News That Matters

Abramovich set deadline to sell Chelsea as Nike review £900m sponsorship deal

Roman Abramovich has been given 81 days to sell Chelsea who are in danger of folding after the UK Government’s decision to sanction the Russian.

The 55-year-old saw his plan to complete a quickfire sale dashed on Thursday morning following a dramatic announcement.

Following the sanctions, which arose as a consequence of Abramovich’s ties to Russi president Vladimir Putin, Chelsea have been issued with a ‘general licence’ which allows them to operate under restrictions which will have a huge impact on the club.

The likes of British property tycoon Nick Candy remain interested in buying the club, but Chelsea can now only be sold on the condition that Abramovich agrees to leave without receiving any financial gain.

Chelsea have been told that a deal must be agreed before the licence runs out on May 31 to guarantee their survival as a properly functioning business.

The PM’s official spokesman explained: ‘A specific licence can be granted to allow any sale to proceed.

‘But under no circumstance would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale.’

Pressure to cede to the Government’s demands is increasing with Chelsea’s kit supplier Nike now considering suspending their £900million deal.

Already, Chelsea’s main shirt sponsor, the telecommunications giant Three, have suspended their £40m-a-year-deal, while the club’s other main sources of financial revenue, such as ticket sales, have been cut-off and spending capacity restricted.

The club’s megastore and hotel were closed on Thursday, while the Blues are unable to negotiate new contracts with a number of first team players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the campaign.

Chelsea remain on course to qualify for the lucrative latter stages of the UEFA Champions League but, according to The Sun, UEFA could even withhold any prize money they are due.

Despite the complexity of the issue off the field, Chelsea’s players ignored any distractions and had a 3-1 win over Norwich City last night, much to the relief of Thomas Tuchel, whose own future is now the subject of huge speculation.

‘Maybe on a day like this you would talk about the Champions League games last night but nobody talks about this,’ said Tuchel after the game.

‘So it nice to enter a schedule before a match as it helps to focus as we’re used to it. We cannot influence it so we allowed ourselves to enjoy it.

‘We have the privilege to play and sometimes it’s good to sweat it out. We tried to work hard to get the focus out.

‘I would love to talk about sport but of course I understand you have a lot of questions. We are also an entertainment so that’s why it is like this.’

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