Sanctions against oligarch Abramovich put Chelsea’s future at risk | sports

Roman Abramovich’s passage through Chelsea history may end up being a round trip that leaves the club in the same ditch from which the Russian oligarch rescued him almost 20 years ago. The harsh economic sanctions imposed on the businessman by the Government of Boris Johnson, due to his links with the Vladimir Putin regime and his collusion with the attacks on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, have placed the sports entity on assisted breathing.

For starters, Abramovich will no longer be able to sell the club’s property, as he announced last week. That possible transaction, in which the billionaire’s law firm had already started working, as well as the American investment bank Raine Group, has been paralyzed. The British government clarified on Thursday, in the same statement announcing the freezing of all the oligarch’s assets, that it would approve an express license “which included permission for the club to continue participating in competitions and other activities related to football, with the intention of protecting the Premier League, the entire pyramid structure of the sport, loyal fans and other clubs.”

The practical provisions of that special permission have placed serious restrictions on Chelsea’s day-to-day and medium-term plans. The club cannot sell more tickets for the remaining competitions this season. Taking into account that the minimum cost of a seat is 56 euros, and that the remaining seats at the Stamford Bridge stadium, discounting those occupied by owners of season tickets, are 12,834, the losses for the club could be more than 700,000 euro per game “All of these measures will have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans, but we are working hard to ensure neither the club nor the domestic competition suffer unnecessary harm,” said Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Culture and Sport, in charge of negotiate with those responsible for the club in the last hours.

Chelsea are also unable to sell shirts, hats, scarves or anything related to their brand in the stadium shop, which remains closed. Only those third parties who have previously purchased material from the club will be able to sell it while supplies last. Even the reservation of rooms at the hotel adjacent to Stamford Bridge cannot be accepted.

Chelsea can no longer, for the moment, buy or sell players, or renew contracts of the current squad. Under the current circumstances, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen or César Azpilicueta should leave the entity next summer at the end of their contract.

The entity will be able to continue paying the payroll of players and staff, and will receive the money corresponding to broadcasting rights, although this money will be frozen and under the control of the British Government. Travel expenses for matches that are played away from home or in other countries —as is the case of the Champions League— may not exceed 24,000 euros per game. According sky sportsciting the agent of one of the players, the entity has already paid in advance for most of its trips outside the United Kingdom, such as the one next Wednesday to France to play the Champions League against Lille. In the case of matches in which the club is the host, which involve huge expenses in terms of security and logistics, the limit amount of spending will be approximately 600,000 euros.

The sponsor hit

The ThreeUK Announcement, the mobile phone operator, that it was suspending its sponsorship of Chelsea for the time being and withdrawing its name from the shirts, has been a serious blow that has added more uncertainty to the future of the entity. It is an agreement of 47 million euros, but its symbolism is much higher, because it opens the doors for other brands, such as Nike, which supplies the club’s equipment, to have suggested, since they are rethinking their relationship with Chelsea, as the newspaper has indicated daily mayl. In the case of Nike, he maintains an agreement of more than 1,000 million euros signed in 2016 with the club for 15 years, and its cancellation would mean Chelsea losses of more than 640 million euros.

The club could ask the Johnson Government to go ahead with its sale, even if it was no longer under Abramovich’s control, and Downing Street could agree to it, in the event that the transaction would benefit the interests of the team and its fans. , and the Russian oligarch did not gain any advantage. The British Executive itself would take the reins of the operation, and the benefits would go to the victims of the war in Ukraine. Before his assets and businesses were totally frozen this Thursday, Abramovich himself had already announced his willingness to allocate the income from the sale to charitable purposes to alleviate the damage of the brutal Russian invasion, and even anticipated his intention to renounce collecting the more than 2,000 million euros that he lent to the club at the time.

The latest to join the group of businessmen who have shown their interest in the club, which under Abramovich’s shadow has won 17 titles and two Champions Leagues, has been the British property developer Nick Candy. “We are examining the details of the announcement [de la congelación de los activos del oligarca] and we are still interested in making an offer”, said a spokesperson for Candy, which intends to bid with a consortium of US investors. “It is clearly a time of great uncertainty for Chelsea fans,” he added.

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