Chelsea hit by severe financial sanctions amid crisis in Ukraine
The PM announced Roman Abramovich’s assets would be frozen, leaving Chelsea fans with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. The long-term repercussions are anyone’s guess, but what do we know so far? Well, Abramovich’s attempt to sell the club has been halted, along with ticket sales, contract renewals, and just to rub salt into the wounds, Chelsea telecommunications sponsor Three has asked for the removal of all logos on the kits and around Stamford Bridge. Chelsea regulars Rudiger, Azpilicueta and Christensen are amongst a star-studded list of players with little time left on their contracts, with rival teams already snooping around the Bridge looking for freebees.
Do Chelsea deserve sympathy – well in short, no, but no one can deny the sad reality of hundreds of Chelsea staff including caterers, physios and many more losing their jobs. But one may sympathise with Chelsea fans at the hypocrisy of Johnson’s statement by which he said ‘today’s sanctions are the latest step in our ruthless pursuit of those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of Ukraine’. Given the welcoming of the Saudi consortium into the Premier League, of whom oversaw the execution of a record 81 people on Saturday, it’s hard to believe that Johnson is primarily concerned with morality. Nonetheless, Abramovich’s money-laundering occupation of Chelsea was merely a front to publicly expose himself for safety from Putin, and football definitely benefits from his departure.
With arguably the strongest youth academy in the world, there is a glimmer of hope for Chelsea fans. Providing they can hold onto the likes of Mason Mount and Connor Gallagher, it is likely the Chelsea youngsters will keep the club afloat. However, Chelsea could face problems selling the club to a new owner due to the lack of incentives for a new buyer – they’ve already won everything there is to win at club level, so there’s no particular incentive to build a reputation like there is at Newcastle. Initially, majority of interest came from NFL owners suggesting it’s likely the takeover will be by a hard-headed businessman looking for a tasty profit, rather than someone like Abramovich who’s willing to shell out. However, Chelsea have received a bid in the region of £2.7 billion from the Saudi Media Group but have told the bidders they must tick all the boxes if they are to have their bid considered. With a price tag of 3.9 billion and renovations needed, attracting a suitable buyer is totting up to be a daunting process, and time is certainly not on Chelsea’s side.
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