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26th Feb 2022

Chelsea could go out of business if Roman Abramovich faces sanctions

Simon Lloyd

The Chelsea owner has so far escaped sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Finance experts have claimed Chelsea face the possibility of going out of business should their owner Roman Abramovich be hit with sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to a report by The Times, ministers have been encouraged to to either seize or freeze Abramovich’s assets in the UK after it became clear he had been named privately by the government as a person of interest due to his close ties to the Russian state and alleged ‘association with corrupt activity and practices’.

Russian troops launched their invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning with the British government – along with other Western powers – responding by placing a raft of sanctions on the country.

The Times’ report claims Abramovich, who has been Chelsea’s owner since 2003, could respond by demanding the £1.5bn he is owed by the club if he is hit by any measures.

“If he feels he is being made a scapegoat for the activities of Putin then the worst-case scenario is he tries to call in the loan,” football finance Kieran Maguire, a finance lecturer at Liverpool University, is quoted as saying.

“Then we’ve got a crisis. He and Putin could argue that it is the British government that has destroyed Chelsea Football Club.

“There could be a lot of misrepresentation and accusations made from all parties if the British government does go down this route.

“But I suspect this government will not want to upset football fans as we have a populist government. I suspect Chelsea’s legal team would be going through all the options.”

So far, Abramovich has not been hit by any sanctions, though the uncertainty which has arisen from their owners links to Vladimir Putin and the Russian state could, it has been reported, result in other interested parties submitting an offer for Chelsea.

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