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Roman Abramovich: Downing Street ‘open to sale’ of Chelsea after club’s owner is sanctioned

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Britain included Mr Abramovich on a new list of seven oligarchs to have their UK assets frozen on Thursday as Britain turned up the heat on wealthy individuals with close links to the Kremlin.

The move has left the future of the Premier League side shrouded in deep uncertainty. Although the club have been granted a licence to continue operating, the Government has barred Mr Abramovich from proceeding with his plans to sell the club, which has reportedly been valued at around £4bn by the Russian tycoon.

However, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that a new licence could be granted to the club by the Treasury to facilitate its sale. He added: “It’s fair to say the Government’s open to a sale of the club but it would require another licence.”

The Government said it was now in talks with Chelsea about the future of the club after it listed a series of stringent measures on its operation to the end of May – including barring future ticket sales and setting a £20,000 limit on travel costs for away games.

It is understood that no request for a further licence to allow the sale of the club has yet been made.

The spokesman added: “We are now talking to Chelsea Football Club. Those conversations will continue. The important thing is under no circumstances of any sale would allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale.

“The principle has been to try to mitigate the impact on fans…these measures are designed to punish those close to Putin and make sure any money generated can’t make its way through to the Russian war machine.”

The Government has also released further details of its justification for sanctioning Mr Abramovich.

In an update to the list of sanctioned entities and individuals published by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, the Government said Mr Abramovich was a person had had “a close relationship for decades” with Mr Putin.

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