The March 10 sanctions imposed on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich have raised questions regarding whether he will still be able to sell the club.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the UK government has frozen Abramovich’s assets, including Chelsea.
As a consequence, Chelsea will not be able to sell any further match tickets or merchandise, and they aren’t permitted to buy or sell players. But the Blues are able to continue to operate as a football club under a special football license granted by the government.
What, though, do the sanctions mean in terms of Abramovich being able to sell Chelsea?
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Will Chelsea still be sold?
The special football license that was issued does not address a potential sale of the club. Abramovich announced that he was entertaining bids on March 2, over a full week before the sanctions hit.
According to The Telegraph, Chelsea can still be sold if the process involves the UK government. The report states that potential buyers remain interested in the club despite the sanctions.
If the club was sold, then the government would be involved in determining the destination of any funds raised.
Reuters’ Simon Evans shared a statement by the spokesperson for the Prime Minister that a special license from the government would be required to execute a sale and it would see the UK Treasury involved.
Chelsea sale could happen. Number ten spokesman says “The government is open to the sale of the club” But would require another license and “that would require a further conversation with the Treasury”
– Simon Evans (@sgevans) March 10, 2022
According to The Telegraph’s reporter Matt Law, it appears that Abramovich has the choice of either handing over a sale to the government or risk holding on to it and potentially watching it lose value as Chelsea’s standing is damaged by his and the club’s inability to conduct regular football business and transactions.
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BBC Sport reporter Laura Scott wrote: “My understanding is that the Government is open in the future to considering a license that would permit the sale of Chelsea FC, but it would have conditions so that the proceeds would not be able to go to Abramovich. ‘
That’s a similar scenario shared by Chris Smyth of The Times who indicated the key is that Abramovich is not the recipient of any proceeds from a potential sale:
Incentive for Abramovich to sell presumably that proceeds from any sale, tho frozen indefinitely, won’t lose value as fast as a top club that can’t sell or buy. And hope to get sanctions removed at quieter time.
Buyers will know this and price must fall significantly https://t.co/r9UxHvE052
– Chris Smyth (@Smyth_Chris) March 10, 2022
What does Chelsea cost?
Sky Sports say that Abramovich’s asking price for Chelsea is $ 4 billion, with one offer of $ 3.3 billion having already been previously rejected. But that was prior to the sanctions. Those numbers would represent a record sale for a football club.
Abramovich, who said he would not be asking for any loans to be repaid, previously stated that net proceeds from the sale would be donated to victims of the war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday it was reported by The Guardian that British property tycoon Nick Candy was working on a bid of $ 3.3 billion for Chelsea, joining a growing list of interested parties.
Abramovich also received an offer from a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Boehly is a part-owner of MLB side the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Could Abramovich keep the team?
Given that selling the club could now prove problematic, there have been suggestions that Abramovich could end up keeping Chelsea.
However, such a scenario surely wouldn’t be ideal for the club should sanctions remain in place.
Liam Twomey of The Athletic states that launching a legal challenge would only serve Abramovich’s personal interests, to the detriment of the club.
If Abramovich is serious about acting in the best interests of Chelsea, the only choice is to walk away ASAP & hand control over any sale to the UK Government. Launching a lengthy legal challenge would only serve his personal interests di lui to the detriment of the club #CFC
– Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) March 10, 2022
If Abramovich remained as Chelsea owner then there is a risk of the club being hampered for a prolonged period should sanctions still apply.