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Chelsea cash crisis ‘will not go away’ after Roman Abramovich hit with sanctions

Blues owner Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government on Thursday morning but can still sell the club under certain conditions.

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says he is happy to be manager of the club despite the uncertainty over its future concerning Roman Abramovich (Adam Davy/PA)

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says he is happy to be manager of the club despite the uncertainty over its future concerning Roman Abramovich (Adam Davy/PA)

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says he is happy to be manager of the club despite the uncertainty over its future concerning Roman Abramovich (Adam Davy/PA)

Thomas Tuchel insists he is happy to remain the Chelsea manager but admits the “situation will not go away” after owner Roman Abramovich was hit with asset-freezing sanctions by the UK Government.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich put the Blues up for sale on March 2 in the wake of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday morning the UK government sanctioned the Chelsea owner amid ties to Vladimir Putin, something Abramovich has always strongly denied, to put any sale of the club in doubt, but a change of ownership could still occur.

The Treasury would have to approve a new licence for the sale, on the proviso no profit would go to Abramovich, and the uncertainty is bound to create anxiety at Stamford Bridge.

On the pitch, however, the men’s team secured a 3-1 win at Norwich, while the women’s side beat West Ham 4-1 on Thursday night.

“The situation will not go away, maybe tomorrow it will change again, but it will not go away,” Tuchel said.

“I am still happy to be here and still happy to be manager of a strong team. I know there is a lot of noise around.

“I don’t have another answer for you. Relief would mean we struggle with all the information and news out there. It is a big change from yesterday to today. At the moment it seems on the football side it is almost protected.

“I feel privileged to have the chance to be involved in games, coaching and football that I love.”

Since Abramovich’s original announcement last week regarding the club he has owned since 2003 being put up for sale, a host of parties have signalled their interest in the Champions League winners and this latest development will not prevent a change of ownership.

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Chelsea trophies under Roman Abramovich ownership (PA Graphics)

Chelsea trophies under Roman Abramovich ownership (PA Graphics)

Chelsea trophies under Roman Abramovich ownership (PA Graphics)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “We are now talking to Chelsea Football Club and those conversations will continue. It would be part of those discussions the terms of any specific licence that’s granted to allow any sale to proceed.

“The important thing is under no circumstances would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale.

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“It’s fair to say the Government is open to the sale of the club but currently it would require another licence and that would require further conversation with the Treasury and other departments.”

Chelsea are set to now be subject to a transfer ban and will be blocked from negotiating new contracts with current players, after all of Abramovich’s UK assets were frozen.

Defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are all out of contract this summer which leaves the senior trio in a state of short-term limbo.

Women’s boss Emma Hayes admitted it is a similar scenario for her Women’s Super League side, telling Sky Sports: “There’s no denying it’s a difficult day, but I think it’s important that we give it time.

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Chelsea manager Emma Hayes shared her thoughts before the WSL win at West Ham (John Walton/PA)

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes shared her thoughts before the WSL win at West Ham (John Walton/PA)

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes shared her thoughts before the WSL win at West Ham (John Walton/PA)

“The club’s put a statement out. I understand the club is working with the Government to dissect the interpretation of that, so I think for all the questions everybody has, players, fans, staff, we have to give the club time to work through that.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries revealed on Twitter Chelsea had been given a special licence to ensure they could fulfil upcoming fixtures.

“Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account,” she said.

“To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.

“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the Government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”

Abramovich has changed the face of British football in his time as Chelsea owner, leading the Blues to 21 trophies in 19 years in a clean sweep of all global competitions.

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Three branding remained on Chelsea’s shirts for the Norwich match (Joe Giddens/PA)

Three branding remained on Chelsea’s shirts for the Norwich match (Joe Giddens/PA)

Three branding remained on Chelsea’s shirts for the Norwich match (Joe Giddens/PA)

But that era has been brought to a halt amid Putin and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Chelsea cannot sell any new tickets to supporters, but all tickets sold before March 10 will be honoured. Season ticket holders can still attend matches unaffected, while refreshments can still be served at Stamford Bridge.

Matches can still be broadcast, while only existing club merchandise can be sold. There are also limits on the amount that can be spent on travel by any team representing Chelsea – £20,000 – and on costs for staging home matches – £500,000.

The travel budget limit had brought into question the club’s ability to fulfil away ties in Europe for the rest of the season, but the PA news agency understands there is a degree of flexibility on the limits set out in the licence, particularly around European fixtures.

The Blues said in a statement they were seeking permission for the licence to be amended “in order to allow the club to operate as normal as possible” while a sale can still take place should Abramovich not profit.

British billionaire Nick Candy is one of a host of suitors interested in Chelsea with Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly also in the running while more than 10 credible parties understood to have been compiling bids.

The Blues still wore the logo of shirt sponsor Three at Carrow Road despite the telecommunications company suspending its deal in the wake of Abramovich’s sanctions with other sponsors are “assessing” the situation while awaiting the next development at Stamford Bridge.

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