Roman Abramovich: Chelsea Football Club owner sanctioned by UK government

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government.

The move is part of a UK Government to sanction Russian oligarchs, with Abramovich, who also has stakes in steel giant Evraz and Norilsk Nickel, one of seven added to the UK’s sanctions list today.

Described as a pro-Kremlin oligarch, Mr Abramovich was hit with an asset freeze and a travel ban in an updated sanctions list published on Thursday after ministers came under sustained pressure to target him.

The 55-year-old put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 in the wake of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

Other oligarchs have been sanctioned alongside Roman Abramovich, including Oleg Deripaska – an industrialist worth £2 billion who has had close links with the British political establishment.

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Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Vladimir Putin’s attacks on Ukraine involved “new levels of evil by the hour” and the Government had announced further sanctions “against individuals linked to the Russian Government”.

She confirmed: “This list includes Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK for his links to Vladimir Putin as the Government pressures Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

She acknowledged this would have an impact on the premiership side but a special licence would enable it to continue operating.

Writing on Twitter she added: “Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

“Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & 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 & 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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

“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 said: “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.”

Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and has always staunchly denied any current political links to Russia’s ruling elite, but Boris Johnson’s Government has now frozen all his UK assets.

Chelsea will be given a special licence to continue operation, but the sale of the Stamford Bridge club is now on hold.