Chelsea have bank accounts temporarily frozen amid Roman Abramovich sanctions
Chelsea have had several accounts temporarily frozen while banks assess the club’s new operating license at Stamford Bridge, according to the PA news agency.
Sanctions from Roman Abramovich’s UK government have frozen all of the billionaire’s UK assets except Chelsea, with the club continuing to operate under special and strict conditions.
Owner Abramovich was sanctioned on Thursday after the Conservative government claimed it had proven the 55-year-old’s links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich has always denied any connection to Russia’s current regime, but Putin’s war in Ukraine has brought about a major geopolitical shift.
Chelsea’s strict license is designed to ensure Abramovich will not profit from the club’s continued business at Stamford Bridge, with ticket sales banned and an embargo on new transfers and new contracts for existing stars.
And these new government regulations have led banks to suspend a number of Chelsea accounts at short notice to obtain more details about this license.
Chelsea hope the suspensions will be lifted shortly, bringing the west London club closer to normal operation.
Blues chiefs were reportedly locked in negotiations with government officials throughout Friday over changes to this new license.
Chelsea expect negotiations with Downing Street to continue next week as both sides offer to ease restrictions.
The Premier League club will look to relax limits like the £20,000 (€23,895) travel cap for away games for example, with typical Premier League spending much closer to £30,000 per game .
Chelsea are believed to have already paid their travel and accommodation bills for the rest of this season for existing fixtures, but that doesn’t cover cup competitions.
The Blues are due to face Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday March 19.
Under current rules, Chelsea cannot sell new tickets for this match, which would seriously affect Championship club Middlesbrough’s gate revenue.
Chelsea cannot sell new match schedules for Sunday’s home Premier League clash with Newcastle, so it is believed sellers cannot work at Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, with his ownership set to end after 19 years and 21 trophies.
Abramovich had pledged to write off the club’s £1.5billion debt and devote all proceeds from the sale to a new charitable foundation to help victims of war in Ukraine.
Chelsea’s current licensing terms have put the sale of the club on hold, but the government is believed to be ready to take control of the process or oversee a transfer of ownership made by Abramovich.
Government sanctions will continue to require Abramovich not to take advantage of Chelsea at all, but the break hasn’t deterred the crowd of potential new owners.
And British property tycoon Nick Candy’s vision for a revamped Stamford Bridge could give the billionaire an edge in that process.
Candy remains interested in bidding for the Champions League holders, despite uncertainty surrounding the sale of the club after Abramovich was sanctioned by the British government on Thursday.
A spokesperson for Candy confirmed the 49-year-old’s continued interest in Chelsea on Friday.
“We are reviewing the details of yesterday’s announcement, and are still interested in making an offer,” Candy’s spokesperson said.
“It is clear that this is a time of great uncertainty for all Chelsea fans.
“In our view, no one owns a football club – you are the guardian of it for the fans and the community.”
A host of American investors are still interested in Chelsea, with Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly part of a consortium and Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts another with widespread interest.
Candy has already declared his ambition to revamp Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium if he wins the race to buy the club.
He is mounting a consortium bid for the Blues and his real estate sphere should find favor in the corridors of Downing Street and the Treasury, it is understood.
Analysts estimate that a fully modernized and expanded Stamford Bridge could boost Chelsea’s commercial revenue by up to 25% a year.
This major potential uprising, if coupled with a shrewd funding plan for the stadium’s reconstruction, is one of the main reasons for the still strong interest in selling Chelsea.
Increasing the hotel supply at Stamford Bridge and conference facilities would be among the other ramifications of a stadium rebuild.
A government-led sale of Chelsea could see purchase capital frozen or directed to charitable causes.
Abramovich may not have the opportunity to create his new foundation, but his earlier public assertions of not wanting to take the product from the point of sale to possible acceptance of government surveillance in light of the sanctions.
Shirt sponsor Three said on Thursday it was suspending its partnership with Chelsea, but travel agency Trivago pledged to continue supporting the club in the “transition to new ownership”.
“The uncertainty over the current ownership situation of Chelsea FC has been difficult,” a statement from the company said.
“Moving forward, it’s important for us to continue to support the club, the fans and the community and the essential work the Chelsea Foundation is doing to help those in need.
“We look forward to a transition of ownership as soon as possible and wish to support the club in this process. We will provide any updates on our commercial relationship as and when appropriate.