frozen out | 

Big fears for Chelsea's short-term future as Jurgen Klopp hits out at big-money owners

Graffiti close to Stamford Bridge shows support for Chelsea (Yui Mok/PA)

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has admitted there are fears over the club's future, as the fall-out from decision from the UK government to sanction Roman Abramovich continues.

Chelsea have had several credit cards temporarily frozen during assessment of the Stamford Bridge club’s new operating licence, it emerged on Friday evening.

Abramovich’s Government sanctions have frozen all the billionaire’s UK assets barring Chelsea, with the club continuing to operate under special, stringent conditions.

Owner Abramovich was sanctioned on Thursday after the Conservative Government claimed to have proven the 55-year-old’s links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich has always denied links to Russia’s current regime, but Putin’s war in Ukraine has led to a major geopolitical shift.

Chelsea’s strict licence is designed to ensure Abramovich will not profit amid the Stamford Bridge club’s continued operations, with ticket sales banned and an embargo on new transfers and new contracts for existing stars.

And those new Government regulations have led to several company credit cards being paused on a short-term basis as the lending companies seek more detail on that licence.

Chelsea are understood to be hopeful the suspensions will be lifted shortly, moving the west London club closer back towards normal operation.

Blues chiefs were understood to have been locked in negotiations with Government officials throughout Friday on amendments to that new licence.

Chelsea expect negotiations with Downing Street to continue into next week as the two parties thrash out an easing of the restrictions.

The Premier League club will seek a relaxation of limits like the £20,000 travel cap for away matches for example, with a typical Premier League spend far closer to £30,000 per match.

Chelsea are thought to have their travel and accommodation bills already paid for the rest of this season for existing fixtures, but this does not cover cup competitions.

A quick sale of the club may now be likely, with British property tycoon Nick Candy’s vision for a redeveloped Stamford Bridge could hand the billionaire an edge in that process.

Candy remains interested in bidding for the Champions League holders, despite uncertainty around the club’s sale after Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Candy on Friday confirmed the 49-year-old’s continued interest in Chelsea.

“We are examining the details of yesterday’s announcement and we are still interested in making a bid,” said Candy’s spokesperson.

“Clearly this is a time of great uncertainty for all Chelsea fans. In our view, no one is the owner of a football club – you are the custodian of it for the fans and the community.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes football authorities and fans have wrongly turned a blind eye to ownership issues in the Premier League so Chelsea’s current predicament should not come as a surprise.

The Stamford Bridge club are operating under a special licence after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government over his ties to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Stringent restrictions have been placed on the day-to-day operations at Chelsea, who are attracting interest from a number of parties after being put up for sale – currently paused – by Abramovich before sanctions were imposed.

Klopp, whose fellow German Thomas Tuchel is having to deal with the very public fall-out, was asked if enough attention had been paid to the checks placed on owners by the Premier League, which recently green-lighted the Saudi-backed takeover at Newcastle.

“I don’t think it is really fair to ask me. You are much longer in this country,” Klopp said.

“Did you care really? Did anyone really care when Roman Abramovich came to Chelsea?

“Did anyone really care when Newcastle got taken over? Do supporters really care? It is a question.

“It is pretty obvious where the money is coming from. Everyone knew it, but we accepted it. That’s our fault. It is a society’s fault so we accepted it.

“Now we cannot accept it anymore and so we punish them. It is not Chelsea’s fault. Not at all.”

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