Chelsea owner disqualified by Premier League

The Premier League has disqualified Roman Abramovich as a director at Chelsea, the league said on Saturday.

Chelsea’s assets were frozen after the UK government imposed sanctions on owner Abramovich. The world and European champions were frozen as an asset of Abramovich, who was one of seven Russian oligarchs to be targeted amid the war in Ukraine, along with Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska, Dmitri Lebedev, Alexei Miller, Andrei Kostin and Nikolai Tokarev.

The Blues were given a licence to continue fulfilling fixtures and paying staff but are relying on cash reserves to function, with various revenue streams halted as part of the government action on Abramovich because of his alleged ties with Russia President Vladimir Putin.

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 31 May 2022.”

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Sources have told ESPN that the limitations on spending — which include a cap of around £20,000 ($26,000) on travel to away matches and a (revised) £900,000 ($1.17m) limit on the cost of staging home games — led Barclays to suspend the club’s credit cards for fear of breaching government rules.

Abramovich’s disqualification as a director will not impact the club’s potential sale. He can apply for a separate licence to continue the process — which he is expected to do — but the government will have a level of involvement defined by the terms of that licence when it is agreed.

Final sign-off on the deal will be required by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, with Abramovich unable to receive any profits from the sale.

Abramovich is now almost certain not to find a buyer willing to pay his £3 billion ($3.9bn) asking price, given the current situation but a quick, cut-price sale increasingly looks the most viable option for all parties. He received multiple bids after putting the club up for sale but not one has matched his valuation as yet, sources told ESPN.

Sources added that a consortium including Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly alongside Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss tabled a bid in an effort to push ahead in the race.

Potential interested parties have until Tuesday to submit offers to New York merchant bank Raine Group, appointed to handle the sale of the club.

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