The government is “open to the sale” of Chelsea Football Club, but no cash would go to newly sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson today said the Treasury would have to ultimately green light a potential sale of the club, but that “under no circumstances would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale”.
Chelsea’s owner was sanctioned by the UK government today for his close links to Russian President Vlaidimir Putin and for his majority ownership of Evraz – a steel company that is providing resources to the Russian army during its invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich announced last week that he had listed Chelsea for sale in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with widespread speculation he was hoping for £3bn.
He said during a statement that all proceeds of the sale would go to a “charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated”.
Johnson’s spokesperson said: “The government is open to the sale of the club, but it would require another licence and that requires a conversation with the Treasury and other departments.”
Chelsea have been granted a special licence to continue some football-related activities, but are no longer able to sell new match tickets or sell merchandise.
They are allowed to cover the cost of staging matches at Stamford Bridge, up to £500,000 per game, and may also pay travel costs of up to £20,000 per game for attending away fixtures.
The special licence also bars Chelsea from buying or selling players, while any negotiations on renewing contracts have to be halted.