Chelsea fans have been left stunned by the news that owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned, leaving the Blues in limbo with club activities now severely limited.
On Thursday the club were banned from selling match tickets and were even forced to close their club shop as Russian owner Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In addition Abramovich will not be allowed to sell the west London side and measures have been put in place to ensure he cannot profit from its activities.
A special licence allows the European champions to continue playing all of their fixtures due to its status as a ‘significant cultural asset’, but only ‘existing ticket holders’ – including fans with season tickets – will be allowed to attend games. Staff and players can still be paid.
Supporters though have been left fearing the worst though as the Blues’ at the very least face a very rocky future.
On social media, there were plenty of concerned fans fearing that the club in its current running would on longer continue, and feared darker times ahead.
They said: ‘Yeah this is it. The end of Chelsea as we know it. Was fun as long as it lasted.’
The news coincides with the day the club celebrate their 117th birthday and fans noted how the there have been better ones for the Blues.
Russian owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned leaving him unable to sell Chelsea
‘This is turning out to be a really s*** birthday for the club.’, one supporter reflected.
Another supporter feared it will spark the end of the club, fearing the sanctions could be hanging around the club for a long time, while sarcastically congratulating those that claimed Abramovich shouldn’t have just sold the club as quick as he could.
They claimed: ‘Chelsea being given the death penalty basically. And no, these sanctions won’t be lifted anytime soon so this will be the new reality. Congrats to whoever advised Roman not to sell last week.’
Chelsea supporters are now fearing the long term future of their club in unprecedented times
Not all Chelsea fans chose to look at the negatives though, with one fan believing that with the club being given a its ‘significant cultural asset’ tag it could be allowed a special type of sale to keep the club functioning.
‘We’ll get the special dispensation for the sale. There will be no ‘death’ of Chelsea,’ they responded.
Meanwhile one fan claimed the fall-out could even benefit some supporters who have been priced out of the club’s financial demands for tickets. They believe even a catastrophic implosion that would lead to a tumble down the football pyramid would at least make tickets to see their team affordable again.
They said: ‘Can’t wait to see us in League 2, might be able to afford a ticket then lol.
Abramovich’s sanction was announced on Thursday morning. Speaking about the decision, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.
Only season ticket holders will now be able to attend matches under the sanctions
‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.
‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame. Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’
Extra measures have been taken to ensure Abramovich cannot profit from Chelsea’s activities in the Premier League. The club will be allowed finish their season as planned but only ‘existing ticket holders’ – including fans with season tickets – will be allowed to attend games.
Speaking about the decision, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans.
The decision to sanction him came after Russia bombed Mariupol’s maternity hospital (above)
Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska (pictured), has also been sanctioned
‘We have been working hard to ensure the club and the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.
‘To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.
‘I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.’
The decision to sanction Abramovich and the six other oligarchs came after Defence minister James Heappey referred to the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine was a war crime.
Seven more oligarchs sanctioned by UK
Roman Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the UK Government today.
The Government estimates his wealth at more than £9billion and notes his stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and ownership of Chelsea FC.
‘He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin,’ a Government spokesman said.
The other oligarchs sanctioned today are:
- Oleg Deripaska: Estimated wealth of £2billion and a multi-million-pound Uk property portfolio. Subject to US sanctions since 2018. Has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers.
- Igor Sechin: Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. The Government said he is ‘particularly close and influential ally of Putin’. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Andrey Kostin: Chairman of VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia. A ‘close associate of Putin’ who has ‘long supported Kremlin objectives through VTB Bank’. Net worth of £379 million. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Alexei Miller: Chief executive of of energy company Gazprom. Served under Putin when autocrat was mayor of St Petersburg. Already sanctioned by the US.
- Nikolai Tokarev: President of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft. Former KGB agent who served alongside Putin in East Germany. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
- Dmitri Lebedev: Chairman of Bank Rossiya, which is ‘widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank’. Sanctioned by the US in 2016.
He called for Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to be held to account for his actions. Therefore, the Foreign Office said the Economic Crime Bill – which is coming into force next week – will allow UK Government to move further and faster than ever on sanctions’.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the attack on the maternity hospital as an ‘atrocity’ and ‘the ultimate proof of genocide against Ukrainians’.
The hospital, in the besieged city of Mariupol, was hit ‘several times’ by high-explosive Russian bombs – one of which missed the building by yards and left a crater two-stories deep, officials said. Other bombs scored ‘direct hits’, President Zelensky said, wounding at least 17 people.
The Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna went on to say that there is ‘no doubt’ that the hospital was deliberately ‘targeted’ by Russia.