Potential buyers of Chelsea Football Club have been told they can approach the government with proposals, after its operations were essentially put on ice by the sanctioning of oligarch owner Roman Abramovich.
Westminster froze Abramovich’s assets on Thursday, meaning the club is not able to sell any more tickets, participate in player transfer deals, or run its merchandising operation.
A ‘special licence’ announced by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries means the club will be able to participate in matches, however.
The 55-year-old Abramovich had been hurriedly trying to offload the club and beat any forthcoming sanctions before Thursday’s announcement, with property developer Nick Candy and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss among the interested parties.
There was also interest from across the pond, according to the Guardian, with private equity billionaire and Crystal Palace shareholder Josh Harris and part-owner of the LA Dodgers Todd Boehly also named as potential suitors.
On Friday, digital and technology minister Chris Philp said while Abramovich was not able to sell the club while sanctioned, potential buyers could approach the government with their proposals, so long as it would not benefit the oligarch.
“As the licence conditions are written today, the sale would not be allowed,” he said to Sky News.
“However, if a buyer emerged it would be open to that buyer or to that football club to approach the government and ask for the conditions to be varied in a way that allows that sale to take place.
“To be clear, no proposal would be accepted which saw the proceeds from any sale ending in an unrestricted bank account owned by Abramovich. He can’t benefit from the proceeds of any sale.”
The Guardian quoted a spokesperson for Candy as saying they were examining the details of the sanctions, and were still interested in making a bid.
“Clearly, this is a time of great uncertainty for all Chelsea fans,” the spokesperson said.
“In our view, no one is the owner of a football club – you are the custodian of it for the fans and the community.”