The U.K. government has amended sanctions on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his Chelsea FC, allowing ticket sales for two important upcoming football matches. However, proceeds will go to event organizers, and not to the club.
Chelsea is defending its EUFA (European) Champions League and world league crown in the quarterfinal versus Real Madrid beginning in April, and will now have spectators in the first leg, home match at Stamford Bridge.
Also in April, Chelsea fans will be able to attend the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium against Crystal Palace, and this also applies for away matches in the English Premier League (EPL).
But no additional tickets are allowed for home matches, only regular-season ticket holders will be able to attend.
The EPL stated that proceeds “will be donated to charity to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.”
As part of sanctions by the U. K. and European Union (EU) moves were made against Russian businesses in Europe. Abramovich was subsequently forced to relinquish management of Chelsea FC and handed over club management to trustees of the Chelsea Foundation.
Abramovich also wrote off a £1.5 billion ($2 billion) debt owed to him by Chelsea FC and put the club up for sale. He intended to donate net proceeds from the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine, but experts have stated that the sanctions by both the U.K. and EU will not allow for any proceeds to return to the owner.
On March 10, the U.K. government announced sanctions on Abramovich with Chelsea FC allowed to operate under a special license until May 31; followed by removing Abramovich as a director of the club two days later.
British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston stated: “I would like to thank fans for their patience while we have engaged with the football authorities to make this possible. Since Roman Abramovich was added to the U.K.’s sanctions list for his links to Vladimir Putin we have worked extensively to ensure the club can continue to play football while ensuring the sanctions regime continues to be enforced.”
Abramovich originally purchased Chelsea FC in 2003 for $1.9 billion and has since invested into it another fortune for its success.
There are currently seven groups pursuing the purchase, and it is estimated that the sale price could reach $4 billion.
Abramovich already offered the sale of Chelsea FC for $3.9 billion shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the U.K. government’s March 10 sanctions banned him from managing the club. The EU stepped in the following week to further place additional sanctions and travel bans.
Public lobbying to be chosen as a preferred bidder began on March 22, and offers were being considered by New York merchant bank, Raine Group, who has been assigned by the U.K. to handle the sale.
Nick Candy, a British property tycoon stated that he “significantly” increased his initial offering of $2.6 billion.
“This remains a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give football back to the fans and put them at the heart of the operations and strategy of Chelsea Football Club,” he said.
Candy is part of “The Blue Football Consortium” representing proposed investment from South Korea including the C&P Sports Group, Hana Financial Group, and a third party.
Part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers, Todd Boehly, along with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and London-based property investor, Jonathan Goldstein (CEO of Cain International), have been mentioned as part of a group that initially placed a bid of over $3.3 billion.
Michael Broughton (former chairman of Liverpool and British Airways), is leading a consortium, that includes former track star Sebastian Coe, which has shown interest.
Another interested party is the Ricketts family of the Chicago Cubs, along with hedge fund manager Ken Griffin in a consortium.
In 19 years of ownership under Abramovich, Chelsea FC became one of Europe’s most-famed clubs winning 21 titles.
Abramovich Moves Yachts to Turkey
Two luxury yachts belonging to Abramovich docked in Turkey following sanctions, travel bans, and his assets being frozen, by the U.K. and the EU.
Abramovich’s yachts—My Solaris and the Eclipse—were flying Bermuda flags.
My Solaris was seen docked at the Aegean port of Bodrum, south-west Turkey on March 21, and the Eclipse docked at the nearby resort town of Marmaris on March 22.
Upon arrival at Bodrum from Montenegro, My Solaris was met by a protest of Ukrainians on a small boat who attempted to prevent the yacht from docking; as stated by Turkish private NTV media.
While private DHA news agency confirmed that the Eclipse docked at a port in Marmaris to avoid asset freezing by the EU.
Abramovich was reported to have traveled last week to Istanbul from Jerusalem aboard his private jet, then left for Moscow the following morning.
As a member of NATO, Turkey has not placed sanctions on Russia, or shut down its airspace, but has closed the Turkish Straits to most Russian warships that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey is attempting to remain neutral as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine; they do have political and trade ties to both but have publicly criticized the Russian invasion.