They just couldn’t leave it well alone, for just a few more days, could they? They just had to do something five days before the reported bidding deadline, after not doing anything for nearly two weeks.
Today, the UK government have (finally) sanctioned Roman Abramovich for being “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, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades”, freezing all of his UK-based assets, which of course (still) include Chelsea Football Club.
Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK Government, freezing his assets and putting the sale of Chelsea on hold.
It comes just days after the billionaire announced he was going to sell the club and donate all net proceeds to the victims of the war in Ukraine.
The sale of the football club, estimated to be worth around £3bn, will now be put on hold as the sanctions take effect.
But Government sources said Chelsea can apply for a licence to sell the club provided no benefits go to Mr Abramovich.
The new sanctions will impact Chelsea Football Club directly, the Government has said, as it detailed Mr Abramovich’s close associations with the Kremlin.
The punitive measures mean only season ticket holders will be able to go to Chelsea games going forward or people who purchased tickets before 10 March.
Mr Abramovich is one of seven oligarchs targeted by Government in its latest round of UK sanctions.
The Government document detailing the updated list said Russian oligarch Mr Abramovich has had a “close relationship for decades” with the Russian president.
It also suggested Mr Abramovich had been involved in “potentially providing steel to the Russian military” which may have been used to produce tanks.
“Abramovich is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, via Evraz PLC, a steel manufacturing and mining company in which Abramovich has a significant shareholding and over which Abramovich exercises effective control,” it said.
“Evraz PLC is or has been involved in providing financial services, or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technology that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine – which includes potentially supplying steel to the Russian military which may have been used in the production of tanks.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries acknowledged the decision would have an impact on Chelsea Football Club, but said a special licence would enable it to continue operating.
“We have been working hard to ensure the club and the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions,” she said.
This includes permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football related activity which will in turn protect the Premier League, the wider football pyramid, loyal fans and other clubs, the Government said.
The licence will be kept under constant review and the Government will work closely with the football authorities.
Ms Dorries added: “I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”
Mr Abramovich has long denied his associated with President Putin.
Last month the Chelsea owner’s spokesperson said he was attempting to help bring an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,” Mr Abramovich’s spokesperson told the PA news agency.
Six other individuals have been targeted by the new wave of sanctions – who have a collective net worth of around £15bn – and will have their assets frozen by the UK Government.
They will also be prohibited from making transactions with UK individuals and businesses, be subject to a travel ban and also have transport sanctions imposed.
Other individuals targeted include President Putin’s right-hand man Igor Sechin and four more of the Russian leader’s inner circle.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.
“Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss aid Mr Abramovich and the other Russian oligarchs sanctioned are “complicit” in Putin’s aggression.
“The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame,” she said.
“Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.”