How Chelsea fans, player pay, transfers and ticket sales are affected by Roman Abramovich sanction

Chelsea fans are seen holding Ukrainian flags before the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday 27th February, 2022.
Chelsea fans are seen holding Ukrainian flags before the Carabao Cup final at Wembley. Credit: PA

Chelsea has been placed under a special operating licence after the Government sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The club must now operate under certain restrictions which covers the men’s, women’s and age-group team are all affected.

So, how does the measure affect fans' match tickets, the football club's sale, crucial upcoming player transfers and merchandise sales?Here's everything you need to know - including why Roman Abramovich is being sanctioned and how he made his money in the years before he brought the top London club.

Can I buy Chelsea tickets?

No - not anymore. Under the terms of the sanction, no more ticket sales will be allowed. However season ticket holders, and fans who already purchased tickets for upcoming matches, will still be able to attend unaffected, and refreshments can still be served at Stamford Bridge.

The sanctions are club-wide meaning all Chelsea teams, including Emma Hayes’ highly-successful women’s team, are affected.

Chelsea matches can still be shown live.

  • Can Roman Abramovich sell the club?

No. The current licence does not permit Abramovich to sell the club, which had been his stated intention.

However, it is understood the Government would consider an application for a new licence to allow the sale of the club, provided it is demonstrated he would not benefit in any way from that sale.

He has previously said the proceeds of any sale would go to support the people of Ukraine.

A man passes a match sold out sign at Chelsea football club’s Stamford Bridge stadium. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
  • Will Chelsea footballers still get paid?

A document issued by the Treasury states the club can continue to pay the salaries, allowances and pensions of all employees. Fees, dividends and other allowances to directors which pre-date the licence can be paid, with the exception of anything due to Abramovich.

Fees related to the day-to-day maintenance of club facilities can be paid, but no money can go towards new capital works or refurbishment of Stamford Bridge or any other club-owned sites.

  • Will Chelsea be able to buy and sell players?

The club can still receive money from other clubs for existing loan or player sale arrangements.

Television revenue and performance fees can still be paid to the club.

Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger. Credit: PA
  • What about new transfers?

Chelsea will be subject to a transfer ban and be blocked from negotiating new contracts with current players, after all of Abramovich’s UK assets were frozen.

This means no new player sales or purchases will be permitted under the licence, and discussions on new deals for players who are out of contract in the summer – such as men’s team captain Cesar Azpilicueta – must go on hold.

Defenders Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are all out of contract at the end of the season, leaving the senior trio in a state of short-term limbo.

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta and Manchester City's Edin Dzeko (right) Credit: Press Association
  • Will the sanction terms affect away matches?

Travel costs for any match played by a team representing Chelsea will be capped at £20,000.

That immediately raises the issue of how the men’s team will be able to fulfil future Champions League away ties beyond next week’s last-16 second leg against Lille.

Fees of up to £500,000 for hosting any Chelsea match can be paid for security, stewarding and so on.

Existing ticket holders can still attend matches, and purchase food and drink while there.

Chelsea's official merchandise shop at the club's Stamford Bridge home stadium in London. Credit: PA
  • Can I still buy Chelsea merchandise?

Third parties who purchased or produced club merchandise prior to March 10 are permitted to sell existing stocks, on the condition that no funds or other financial benefits are made available to the club or Abramovich.

But sales of new Chelsea FC merchandise will not be allowed.

  • Other points and principles

The club are obliged to keep records of any activity permitted under the licence with a value exceeding £5,000 for a minimum of six years.

The licence expires on May 31. The Treasury reserves the right to vary, revoke or suspend it at any time.

The core principle of the licence is to deny access to revenue, beyond what the club needs to operate on a day-to-day basis.

Roman Abramovich. Credit: PA
  • What has Chelsea said about the decision to sanction Roman Abramovich?

Chelsea released the following statement on Thursday afternoon, as the club enters talks over its future.The club's full statement said: "By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. However, the UK Government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities."We will fulfil our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence.

"This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible. We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities."

  • So why has the Government sanctioned Roman Abramovich?

The UK Government describes Abramovich is described as “a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch” who is “associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” – Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The men are described by the Government as having had “a close relationship for decades”, an association which has resulted in “financial or other material benefit” from the Russian regime, the Government said.

It said this included tax breaks received by companies linked to Abramovich, and “preferential treatment and concessions” from the Kremlin.

It highlighted the Russian steel firm Abramovich part-owns, Evraz, as being involved in providing financial services, or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technology “that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine”.

Evraz has not itself been added to the list of companies that have had shares suspended as a result of sanctions, like Russian gas giant and major football sponsor, Gazprom. However its shares have been halted on the London Stock Exchange as an interim measure, the Financial Conduct Authority has said.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich Credit: Jed Leicester/PA

How did Roman Abramovich get so rich?

Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli billionaire oligarch has made much of his fortune in commodities, starting off as a trader in the years the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Like many oligarchs, he made his fortune in post-Soviet Russia, as opportunities grew to cash in on its program of privatisation of former state assets in the emerging petrostate economy.

Abramovich invested in oil, and also obtained Russian state-owned assets at prices far below market value in Russia's controversial loans-for-shares privatisation program.

Roman Abramovich, the former governor of Russia's Chukotka region from 2000 to 2008, is an associate of Vladimir Putin. Credit: PA

The Chelsea owner is today worth an estimated £9.4 billion.

He owns private investment company Millhouse LLC, and has a stake in steel firm Evraz, along with shares in Russian nickel producer Norilsk Nickel.

His announcement that he planned to sell Chelsea amid Russia's invastion of Ukraine has came just a week before the sanctions decision.

His plans to sell have attracted a string of high profile potential buyers.

British luxury property billionaire David Candy was the latest to publicly throw his hat in the ring to bid for the club.