Sanctions finally fell on Roman Abramovich’s assets in the UK this morning. The move means the potential sale of the club is also put in hold. Weirdly the sanctions will not have much impact on Abramovich but will have a massive impact on Chelsea.
We will operate under a special licence from the government but are prohibited from selling tickets to matches or merchandise, nor can we offer new contracts to players or sign any players.
The only reason we are functioning at all is that we are a “asset of significant cultural value”. But an asset that is now not allowed to spend more than £20,000 travelling to away games and £500,000 on policing, stewarding and catering home games. Thankfully we have pre-paid most of this season’s travel already but the squad could be on the bus if we are drawn away in Madrid.
Chelsea have just been hamstrung by the Tory government. It is, in effect a government takeover by a regime that couldn’t manage a whelk stall but have decided to shaft Chelsea.
Christian weirdo and culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, said that our special licence was issued to enable staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend games. She added, “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.”
Clearly Dorries doesn’t understand the running of a Premier League team and these sanctions will only hit Chelsea Football Club and the fans. The restrictions on signing players or offering new contracts could cost us three first-team players from the men’s side and as many as five from the women’s. The government seem to imagine that ticket sales might be funnelled to the Russian war effort so our home crowds will be limited to season ticket holders.
The logic of the sanctions against Chelsea appear to be drawn up on the assumption that Chelsea generate a profit which can be exploited by evil Russian war lords… the depressing truth is that Chelsea lost £153.4m last year. Leaving Chelsea in Abramovich’s control would be a net drain on his wealth.
The Government’s evidence against Roman is extremely thin. For all the allegations that he manages Putin’s personal finances and was ordered to buy Chelsea by the KGB – yes, really – the sanctions are based on his part ownership of a steel company called Evraz.
The government maintain that Roman is personally involved in “destabilising Ukraine, and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence” of the country. He did this dastardly act by owning a controlling stake in Evraz which sold steel to the Russian military for the production of tanks. And, er, that is it.
When these sales were made is not detailed but they are unlikely to date within the last two weeks or indeed since the Ukraine crisis started.
The Foreign Office and National Crime Agency struggled to find any real connection between Abramovich and Putin. They said he had received preferential treatment by the Kremlin but didn’t give any examples of what or, crucially, when.
This from a governing party in the UK that is largely funded by Russian money. Yes that’s is right, the Conservative party have not agreed to return any of the Russian money donated to the party. The Russian donations to Conservative Central Office were clearly designed to facilitate political favour and preferential treatment but there is no news on when sanctions will be imposed on the Conservative Party.
On the up side Three announced they want us to remove their sponsorship from the front of our shirts. Although the short turn around means we will wear their overblown logo tonight.
For the club’s part they said that they will fulfil their fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham and then “intend to engage in discussions with the UK government regarding the scope of the licence. This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the club to operate as normal as possible.”
There will have to be some movement because the club clearly cannot be run within these restrictions.