Finally, the British government has come down hard on Russian oligarch and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. He is one of seven oligarchs to be sanctioned by the UK government today and have their assets frozen.
The decision has massive ramifications for Chelsea FC. They can no longer buy or sell players, sell merchandise, sell tickets or do anything that can enrich their owner. Abramovich is also prevented from selling the club, despite his frantic efforts over the past two weeks.
Here's how the UK government describe the Chelsea owner in their statement about the sanctions.
Roman Abramovich has stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and owns Chelsea FC. He sold a 73% stake in Russian oil firm Sibneft to state-owned gas titan Gazprom for £9.87 billion in 2005. His net worth is an estimated £9.4 billion. He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin. None of our allies have yet sanctioned Abramovic
"There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine," said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Abramovich's arrival in English football surely had a transformative effect on the Premier League, and for the worse. For Abramovich, owning Chelsea was never about football.
Back in 2013, journalist with the Times Matthew Syed sat down with Jim White on Sky Sports News to discuss Abramovich's ownership of Chelsea. In clear language, Syed explains Abramovich's business background and alleges his real motivation in buying Chelsea.
Matthew Syed on Roman Abramovich Chelsea ownership
— Jonathan Wilson (@J_J_WILSON1) March 3, 2022
The video was being shared widely last week, when it was confirmed that Abramovich was selling the club. It's being shared widely again today now that it's clear he won't be able to. It is a very clear-eyed explanation of how sportswashing works and why owning sports teams remains such a compelling concept for the superrich.
This is from 2013. The scandal was obvious back then to most right-minded people but not deluded Chelsea fans who kept chanting the name of #Abramovich from the stands (and, shamefully, still do) https://t.co/2rZ2ROIac3
— Matthew Syed (@matthewsyed) March 10, 2022
The relationship between Putin and Russian oligarchs is fascinating and complex. For more on the subject, we heartly recommend a recent podcast on Evening Standard owner Lord Lebedev.
My investigation into how Evgeny Lebedev became a House of Lords member, against security services advice, shows his father is a Kremlin agent and offered to act as a backchannel between Boris and Putin over the Skripal poisonings. Producer: @gemmanewby. https://t.co/LZw0qmwrj6 pic.twitter.com/OgHONRBTG4
— Paul Caruana Galizia (@pcaruanagalizia) March 3, 2022