Chelsea can still be sold by Roman Abramovich despite the UK government freezing his assets – but only if none of the proceeds benefit him.
On Thursday, the billionaire was finally sanctioned after the government said he had been ‘involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermined and threatened the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine’ through the steel manufacturing company Evraz PLC.
The government has permitted thd club to continue operating under a special license – though it prevents ticket sales, player transfers, new contracts and merchandise sales, among other things.
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Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale last week and had been hoping to secure around £3b for the London club, claiming that ‘net proceeds’ would go to ‘victims of the war in Ukraine’.
That sale was expected to be put on hold for the foreseeable future after the sanctions, though now it has emerged that the Russian can still continue if he agrees to hand over the process to the government.
According to The Telegraph, the government would decide the value of the club, and where the funds from any deal will go, and are ready to give special dispensation to allow a sale if it is determined to be in the best interests of Chelsea.
But, Abramovich cannot profit from the sale, while the terms of the special license state that: ‘The permissions in this license do not authorise any act which the person carrying out the act knows, or has reasonable grounds for suspecting, will result in funds or economic resources being dealt with or made available in breach of the Russia Regulations.’
Abramovich had instructed merchant bank Raine Group to conduct his search for a buyer and is believed to have received up to 10 viable offers for the club.
Despite the sanctions, investors are believed to remain interested and the likeliest solution would see Abramovich’s charity fund for victims of the war scrapped and eventually replaced by a fund set up and operated by the government.
However, If Abramovich does not agree to let the government conduct the sale, the Blues will remain in a state of limbo and paralysis.