Chelsea's Roman Abramovich among Russians hit by UK sanctions

UK government says it will enable the club to continue playing matches and engage in other footballing activities

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Britain said on Thursday it had imposed asset freezes on seven Russian businessmen, including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.

Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitri Lebedev have also been added to the country's sanctions list.

There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Vladimir Putin’s "vicious assault on Ukraine", British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Mr Abramovich is the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, Mr Deripaska has stakes in En+ Group, Mr Sechin is the chief executive of Rosneft and Mr Lebedev is chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya.

Abramovich London

A Kensington Palace Gardens house with 15 bedrooms is valued at more than £150 million.

A three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront bought for £22 million.

Steel company Evraz drops more than 10 per cent in trading after UK officials said it was potentially supplying the Russian military.

Sale of Chelsea Football Club is now impossible.

The UK government said it would enable Chelsea to continue playing matches and engage in other footballing activities after the move to freeze assets.

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

Described as a pro-Kremlin oligarch, Mr Abramovich was hit with an asset freeze and a travel ban in an updated sanctions list published on Thursday after ministers came under sustained pressure to target him.

The government document says he has had a "close relationship for decades" with the Russian president.

"This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the government of Russia," it says.

The sale of Chelsea Football Club has been put on hold after sanctions were placed on owner Roman Abramovich. Reuters.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Mr Putin’s attacks on Ukraine involved “new levels of evil by the hour” and the government had announced further sanctions “against individuals linked to the Russian government”.

“This list includes Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club,” she said.

She acknowledged that this would have an effect on the premiership side but that a special licence would enable it to continue operating.

Mr Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and has always staunchly denied any current political links to Russia’s ruling elite.

The 55-year-old put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 in the wake of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine. However, the move to freeze Mr Abramovich's assets means the sale is now on hold, leaving the club in financial limbo.

British billionaire Nick Candy had been the latest high-profile business magnate to throw their hat into the ring for Chelsea’s sale, amid a host of suitors for the Champions League holders.

Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly were also in the running, with more than 10 credible parties understood to have been compiling bids.

Updated: March 10, 2022, 4:00 PM
Abramovich London

A Kensington Palace Gardens house with 15 bedrooms is valued at more than £150 million.

A three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront bought for £22 million.

Steel company Evraz drops more than 10 per cent in trading after UK officials said it was potentially supplying the Russian military.

Sale of Chelsea Football Club is now impossible.

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