Abramovich sanctioned: What it means for Chelsea

A security officer patrols at Stamford Bridge, the stadium for Chelsea Football Club, in London, Britain. March 3, 2022. [Reuters]

Britain on Thursday imposed sanctions on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Boris Johnson's government hit the two oligarchs with asset freezes and travel bans over their links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich had last month put Chelsea up for sale and valued the club at around Sh600 billion (£4 billion), but the asset freeze and sanctions on him bar that process.

The sanctions mean Chelsea will operate under a special licence and has been banned from selling merchandise and tickets, effectively embargoing the club and depriving the 55-year-old billionaire of any profits.

Season ticket holders will only be permitted to attend matches.

Lawmakers will, however, discuss ways of allowing away fans, who could attend during Champions League ties, without funnelling cash to the club. 

Players will continue to play and engage in other footballing activities but the 'Blues' will, however, not sign any new contracts or engage in the transfer market.

Staff and players will still be paid and catering services provided at matches.

"The licence will be kept under constant review and we will work closely with the football authorities," the government said.

There have been growing calls from British lawmakers for action to be taken against Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs, with criticism that Johnson's government was not moving fast enough compared to the European Union and the United States.

Also sanctioned was Oleg Deripaska, who has stakes in En+ Group, Dmitri Lebedev, the chairman of Bank Rossiya, Alexei Miller, the chief executive of energy company Gazprom, and Nikolai Tokarev, the president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft.