Premier League disqualifies Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as director of club

Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final match against FC Barcelona in Sweden in 2021. Credit: AP

Roman Abramovich has been disqualified as a director of Chelsea by the Premier League board after the Russian oligarch was sanctioned by the UK government.

A Premier League statement read: “Following the imposition of sanctions by the UK government, the Premier League board has disqualified Roman Abramovich as a director of Chelsea Football Club.

“The board’s decision does not impact on the club’s ability to train and play its fixtures, as set out under the terms of a licence issued by the government, which expires on May 31 2022.”

Roman Abramovich moved to sell Chelsea after 19 years at the Stamford Bridge helm. Credit: PA

Chelsea have been handed a new licence to continue operations, however, and the European champions are still locked in negotiations with the government to ease restrictions.

Mr Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, pledging to write off the Blues’ £1.5billion debt and to divert all proceeds to a new foundation to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group has now assessed the terms of the licence and agreed a route forward for the sale with the government, the PA news agency understands.

The Premier League board’s decision to disqualify Abramovich is unlikely to have any real impact, as the sale process was already under way. It does not affect Chelsea’s ability to play matches.

How will the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich affect Chelsea's future? ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott explains

The government sanctioned the Russian-Israeli billionaire after claiming to have proved his direct links to Putin’s regime, although Chelsea’s owner has always denied any association.

The sanctions mean that no more ticket sales will be allowed, player transfers and new contracts will be banned, merchandise sales will also not be allowed but catering services will be permitted.

But Chelsea FC- which the oligarch bought in 2003 - will still be allowed to operate under a special licence, though it will be severely impacted by the asset freeze aspect of the sanctions.

Mr Abramovich, 55, is among among a list of Russian oligarchs being sanctioned by the UK in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has now entered its 17th day.

The oligarchs will be subject to a travel ban, barred from entering or leaving Britain, and will have their UK assets frozen.