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Chelsea supporters’ trust urges Government to amend sanction to avoid job losses

Blues owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the British Government on Thursday over his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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The Government has been urged to alter the terms of a licence imposed on Chelsea to avoid job losses (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Government has been urged to alter the terms of a licence imposed on Chelsea to avoid job losses (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Government has been urged to alter the terms of a licence imposed on Chelsea to avoid job losses (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Government must urgently amend the terms of the licence imposed on Chelsea in order to avoid innocent people losing their jobs, the club’s supporters’ trust has said.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the British Government on Thursday over his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who launched an invasion of Ukraine just over two weeks ago.

Abramovich’s assets have been frozen, with Chelsea allowed to continue to operate but under strict conditions designed to prevent them generating new revenue which could benefit the Russian-Israeli billionaire.

This includes the sale of any new tickets for home or away matches, and a ban on the sale of merchandise.

The club issued a statement on Thursday urging the Government to amend the licence terms, and Dan Silver from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) warned people’s livelihoods were at risk even in the short term if it was not altered.

“We would like the club to have the ability to trade as close to maximum capacity as possible,” he told the PA news agency.

“It’s the casual staff who work on matchdays who aren’t going to get paid. If only half the people are in the stadium, they’re only going to need half as many staff.

“All these people rely on that (money) to put food on the plate. It’s harsh on them, and the punishment falling all the way downhill is harsh.

“We don’t want to have any jobs lost as a result of this, because the bigger picture is to keep everybody in the club protected and looked after.”

If the Government wants to keep a tight, watchful eye on where the money goes, there’s nothing to hide and the club should have no issue with doing that.Dan Silver, CST

Silver said a compromise solution would be for Chelsea to be allowed to sell tickets and merchandise but for the money to be independently managed, with the club needing to prove they were only drawing down what they needed to pay operating costs.

“If the Government wants to keep a tight, watchful eye on where the money goes, there’s nothing to hide and the club should have no issue with doing that,” he added.

The licence does not permit the club to be sold but the Government said on Thursday it is “open” to a sale if an application is made for a new licence.

British billionaire Nick Candy is among those still interested in buying the Champions League holders despite Thursday’s sanctions, but the question remains what the realistic value of the club is now.

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Abramovich had stated his intention to sell on March 2 but there is nothing to stop him changing his mind.

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is looking to sell the club (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is looking to sell the club (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is looking to sell the club (Rebecca Naden/PA)

However, Silver is confident Abramovich will stick to his word and walk away from the investment, having previously said any proceeds of sale would go to support all victims of the war in Ukraine.

“If he wants to stay (invested in Chelsea) and fight the UK Government, which I think he will find very very difficult, this could potentially drag on for months and months and destroy the club, which I don’t think he would want,” he said.

“I would imagine he would probably walk away.”

The CST joined a meeting with Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston on Thursday, alongside the Chelsea Women’s Supporters Group, Chelsea Pride and the Football Supporters’ Association.

The Trust reiterated its call for supporters to be given a ‘golden share’ as part of any new sale, giving it a say over key issues related to the club such as the crest, club colours and a change of stadium.

The club’s supporters have been criticised for chanting Abramovich’s name during the Premier League match at Norwich on Thursday night, something the Trust urged against in a social media post issued before kick-off.

“The players need our support more than ever. Tonight, let’s get behind the team, rather than focusing on today’s news,” the tweet read.

“Now is the time for Chelsea supporters to focus on actions we can take to protect the future of our club.

“Supporters should be respectful of any pre-match show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are suffering appallingly at the hands of Putin.”

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