The UK government has imposed sanctions on Chelsea Football Club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, halting the sale of the London club.
The billionaire, one of seven oligarchs whose assets have been frozen, announced last week that he intended to sell Chelsea – thought to be worth around Â£3bn – following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the time, he said the move was in the best interests of the club and that net proceeds would be donated to “all victims of the war in Ukraine”.
However, with the announcement of sanctions on Thursday, the sale will now not be able to go ahead. No UK citizen or company may now do business with any of the the seven sanctioned individuals, who have a collective net worth of Â£15bn, according to the government.
The other sanctioned individuals are industrialist Oleg Deripaska; Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin; VTB chair Andrey Kostin; Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller; Transneft president Nikolai Tokarev; and chair of Bank Rossiya Dmitri Lebedev. All are subject to a full asset freeze and travel ban.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.”
Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “Oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, they are complicit in his aggression. The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands.”
Abramovich has owned Chelsea for nearly two decades.
Although the sale of the club has been halted, the government has granted the club a licence authorising various football-related activities to continue, including playing matches.