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new blow Chelsea Supporters Trust fears for club's future as shirt sponsor suspends deal

With all of Abramovich’s UK assets being frozen, the proposed sale of the club is now on hold, although the Government could still facilitate a deal.

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the Government on Thursday, putting the Stamford Bridge club’s future into doubt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the Government on Thursday, putting the Stamford Bridge club’s future into doubt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the Government on Thursday, putting the Stamford Bridge club’s future into doubt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Chelsea Supporters Trust feels the club must now face up to “cutting our cloth accordingly” following sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich and work towards long-term sustainability – even if that means a decade in the trophy wilderness.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire bought the Blues in 2003 and under his stewardship Chelsea have gone on to enjoy a period of unprecedented success.

However, with all of Abramovich’s UK assets being frozen, the proposed sale of the club is now on hold, although the Government could still facilitate a deal.

Chelsea are not permitted to sell any new tickets to supporters or away fans, but all those sold before March 10 will be honoured, while the club are also subject to a transfer ban and cannot negotiate new contracts with current players.

While the Blues may now be facing a very uncertain future, CST board member Dan Silver believes it is something everyone must quickly come to terms with and look to eventually work through.

“Sanctions were always going to be on the cards, ever since war (in Ukraine) started, there has been a lot of clamour in parliament and so on for the oligarchs to be sanctioned, so it is not a surprise,” Silver told the PA news agency.

“I think the Government probably carried out due diligence to ensure that there won’t be any kind of potential blowback from all the oligarchs who are being sanctioned because they have got deep pockets and good lawyers, so that was kind of expected.

“It is not a Government attack on Chelsea Football Club, far from it. It is just because Mr Abramovich is the owner, sanctions are on him and one of his major assets in the UK is Chelsea Football Club. Therefore, as a result of everything which is going on, the club have been punished.”

Silver continued: “They don’t want a fresh revenue stream coming into the club, I’m assuming, which could potentially be syphoned off elsewhere.

“They want to really give Chelsea a very tight ship to run. I think the sanctions go to May 31, which would encompass any potential Champions League final, so we have cut our cloth accordingly.

“If we lost three players – like Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen – on free transfers because we couldn’t offer new contracts because of what is going on in Ukraine, well, quite frankly, what is going on in Ukraine is on a different level.

“It is churlish to kind of even compare the two, so we have got to deal with it and see what happens.

“These sanctions aren’t permanent, they are very much for the now. In the last 10 days since Abramovich said he wants to sell, and I am sure before he publicly announced it, things were being touted.

“There could soon be buyers on board and we could be very close to having something to take over the club.

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“We will be able to continue to the end of the season and see what that brings. What the bigger impact will be on the club, I just don’t think anybody knows.”

The CST has called for a swift resolution – and one which has fans at the core.

“We have not got huge, unrealistic demands (for the new owners), they just continue from what happened under Mr Abramovich moving forward,” Silver said.

“What the Chelsea Supporters Trust want is to make sure there is a football club moving forward, in whatever guise that may be.”

Silver added: “Under Mr Abramovich, for 20 years, we have lived the dream. We have won everything we can – it’s just been an incredible ride.

“But trophies don’t define my support for Chelsea, because I’ve been going for 40 years and had 20 years of famine.

“I don’t imagine they (trophies) define most fans’ support. It is the football club they support.

“If it means we have three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or 10 years of a trophy wilderness, then so be it.

“We just want to make sure there is a Chelsea Football Club moving forward for us and for future generations.”

The club suffered another blow on Thursday afternoon, after mobile phone firm Three confirmed the suspension of its shirt sponsorship deal.

A Three spokesperson said: “In light of the government’s recently announced sanctions, we have requested Chelsea Football Club temporarily suspend our sponsorship of the club, including the removal of our brand from shirts and around the stadium until further notice.

“We recognise that this decision will impact the many Chelsea fans who follow their team passionately. However, we feel that given the circumstances, and the Government sanction that is in place, it is the right thing to do.

“As a mobile network, the best way we can support the people of Ukraine is to ensure refugees arriving in the UK from the conflict and customers currently in Ukraine can stay connected to the people who matter to them. Therefore, we are offering connectivity packages to all Ukrainians arriving in the UK, and those in Ukraine.”

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