Chelsea on its knees: Club could run out of cas in 17 days

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Chelsea will today beg the Government to ease sanctions against them to save them from financial evisceration as it emerged they could go bust in just over a fortnight as ministers consider forcing through the club’s £3billion sale without Roman Abramovich giving permission or getting any of the cash.

On the pitch it was business as usual last night as the club beat the Premier League’s worst team Norwich City 3-1 in front of away fans who chanted the oligarch’s name through the match amid fears they might not finish the season.

Manager Thomas Tuchel praised his players after they comfortably beat the rock bottom Canaries, declaring: ‘We can trust each other and this will not change. As long as we have enough shirts and a bus to drive to the games we will be there and will compete hard’.

But with its stars costing almost £28million ($37m) a month in wages, and the most recent accounts showing reserves of £16million, the club would burn through that cash in 17 days because they are now banned from raising any funds from tickets and merchandise, worth at least £600,000 per match day alone.

As the money runs out, Three has already suspended its £40million shirt sponsorship deal, with Nike, Hyundai and grocery delivery firm Zapp also on the brink of tearing up their contracts. 

Technology minister Chris Philp criticised some Chelsea fans who chanted Roman Abramovich in support of the club owner sanctioned over the Russian invasion. The Government claims Mr Abramovich received financial benefits from the Kremlin, including tax breaks for his companies, the buying and selling of shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and contacts in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He told Times Radio: ‘I’m a football fan myself, I’m a Palace fan, in south London. So, I understand why fans are very attached to their football clubs. But Roman Abramovich is someone who has been sanctioned now, yesterday morning, for his very close links to Vladimir Putin and the Putin regime.

‘I just say respectfully to the Chelsea fans, I know he’s done a lot for the club, but the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and what the Russian regime are doing to civilians – shelling maternity hospitals and shooting civilians who are fleeing down humanitarian corridors – and that is more important than football’. He added that anyone who wants to buy the club can ‘approach the Government to make a proposal’.

The chaos at Chelsea came on one of the most dramatic days in the history of English football, when its Russian-born oligarch owner had £3.2billion of UK assets frozen and told he can no longer press ahead with getting rid of the club for £3billion after 20 years in charge – and is not expected to get a penny.

Instead ministers are considering taking control of the process and any profits being diverted away from Abramovich’s charity that would benefit Ukrainians and Russians and given to an independent charity, such as the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

The club’s bosses are expected to meet with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today where they will say a ban on ticket sales is impossible and they face financial decimation. They would also like the contracts embargo to be lifted because captain César Azpilicueta and star defenders Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen will leave for nothing amid fears of a squad exodus. 

Ministers could choose to force through the sale of the club and keep the proceeds in a frozen bank account or pass it on to a charity of their choice rather than the charitable foundation Abramovich had wanted.

Stephen Taylor Heath, Head of Sports Law at JMW Solicitors, said: ‘It may be possible, with Government involvement, for the club to be sold without Abramovich involvement. 

‘That would be similar to a sale of a club in administration where the administrator deals with the buyer and the club liaises with the governing body. If this were to happen though, the ‘administrator’ would need to have sufficient legal authority to sell the club. The administrator’s ability to do so is normally part of the administration process but they may need to be granted this authority by the Government. This may be subject to legal challenge’.

Chelsea fans celebrate after their sides victory over Premier League basement club Norwich City 3-1 last night. Some supporters reportedly chanted Roman Abramovich in support of their sanctioned owner amid claims the club could be sold without his permission

Chelsea's management will ask the Government to allow them to sell tickets and renew contracts to avoid financial ruin

Chelsea’s management will ask the Government to allow them to sell tickets and renew contracts to avoid financial ruin

The UK has said the billionaire, who has owned Chelsea for 20 years, is 'associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin'

The UK has said the billionaire, who has owned Chelsea for 20 years, is ‘associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin’

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world. He now cannot sell any of them

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world. He now cannot sell any of them

Chelsea can request special dispensation, which would be considered if the Government views a change of ownership in the best interests of the club, provided it does not benefit Abramovich.

In that scenario, it is likely that the Government would take control of the sale and the proceeds would be frozen or go into a charitable fund, possibly for the war victims in Ukraine. That effectively leaves Abramovich with two options: agree to the Government’s conditions and lose the club for nothing, or let Chelsea slowly rot. 

It is likely the Russian billionaire will proceed with the sale to preserve the club’s future, even though that means he would not receive a penny for an asset he was looking to sell for £3bn last week.

A number of parties remain in the running, including Christian Candy, whose attempts to buy Chelsea were revealed by Sportsmail earlier this week.

Chelsea were holding talks on Thursday night with the Government amid concerns they will struggle to complete the campaign.

The Blues could lose millions in sponsorship revenue following Thursday’s developments. Shirt sponsors Three have put their £40m agreement on hold and kit suppliers Nike, who agreed a 15-year, £900m deal with Chelsea in 2016, are considering walking away. That would see the club miss out on £540m.

To top it all, Chelsea’s rivals are lining up to take advantage of their plight, with two players who were due to sign for the Blues’ academy already approached by other high-ranking Premier League clubs, given the ban on the Blues bringing in fresh talent.

  • Abramovich’s assets were frozen, throwing the sale of the club into disarray, although British property tycoon Nick Candy remains interested and several others are preparing £2billion offers;
  • Shirt sponsors Three suspended their £40million deal, while fellow Chelsea partners Nike, Hyundai, Parimatch and Zapp consider ending their agreements;
  • Chelsea chiefs held urgent talks with the Government in the hope of lessening the impact of stringent restrictions placed on the club, amid fears they may not be able to complete the season;
  • Chelsea were told they cannot renew contracts or buy any players;
  • Rival Premier League clubs circled like vultures to sign young footballers who were due to join Chelsea.
Chelsea are in turmoil and may struggle to finish the season after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK

Chelsea are in turmoil and may struggle to finish the season after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK

Abramovich (above) saw his assets frozen, throwing the pending sale of the west London club into disarray

Abramovich (above) saw his assets frozen, throwing the pending sale of the west London club into disarray

Abramovich was sanctioned over his links to Russia President Vladimir Putin (right), plunging the club's future into doubt

Abramovich was sanctioned over his links to Russia President Vladimir Putin (right), plunging the club’s future into doubt

The dramatic news on Thursday effectively means Abramovich can no longer press ahead with selling the club

The dramatic news on Thursday effectively means Abramovich can no longer press ahead with selling the club

British property tycoon Nick Candy (left with his wife Holly Valance) though remains interested, while several bidders are preparing bids in excess of £2billion

British property tycoon Nick Candy (left with his wife Holly Valance) though remains interested, while several bidders are preparing bids in excess of £2billion

What Chelsea now can and can’t do following sanctions on Abramovich

CAN 

  • Play all their matches, home and away; 
  • Pay the salaries of players and staff;  
  • Provide stewards, security and food and drink for fans, subject to a £500,000 spending cap;
  • Receive TV broadcasting revenues and prize money – although this will be frozen;  
  • Club sale could potentially still go ahead, as long as Abramovich does not benefit financially.  

CAN’T 

  • Sell tickets to home or away fans – only existing ticket holders will be allowed to attend; 
  • Agree any new transfers or contracts; 
  • Sell merchandise at the stadium or online; 
  • Spend more than £20,000 on away travel;
  • Carry out any building work on Stamford Bridge.  

Blues officials proposed amendments to the licence issued to allow them to operate.

Under a wide-ranging raft of restrictions, Chelsea were left unable to sell match tickets, forced to close the club shop and blocked from taking bookings for the Stamford Bridge hotel.

They were told they can no longer buy or sell players, or offer new contracts, and were restricted to a maximum spend of £20,000 on travel to away matches.

They were informed that they can only pay ‘reasonable costs’ towards hosting home fixtures, ‘not exceeding £500,000 per fixture, per team’.

But there is a view the limits on transport and hosting matches will need to be raised to stop the club losing money.

Chelsea will continue to receive TV broadcast payments and prize money, but this will be frozen. Existing staff and players will continue to be paid.

The club will also ask for clarity over contracts, with a number of star players’ deals due to expire at the end of the season.

As it stands, Chelsea cannot renew any contracts – meaning defenders Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta will leave in the summer.

Manager Thomas Tuchel and his players were addressed by club officials before Thursday night’s win at Norwich and urged to focus on the football, despite the huge uncertainty. 

Meanwhile Pat Nevin, who played for the club 193 times, later revealed on BBC 5Live that some members of the club’s staff had already been ‘partially laid off’ in the wake of Thursday’s financial sanctions.

The former Blues star, who still writes for the club’s website, also warned that Chelsea’s future remains ‘in serious danger’ and called on Abramovich to sell to the ‘right people’.

Three UK’s decision to suspend its sponsorship deal with Chelsea sets up a possible wave of corporate boycotts that could see the club deprived of tens of millions of pounds worth of revenue and facing financial meltdown. 

Analysts say other sponsors are likely to follow Three in the hope of avoiding ‘guilt by association’ with Abramovich, who officials say owes at least part of his £9.4billion fortune to his friendship with Putin. 

Shirt sponsors Three also suspended their £40million deal with the club following the announcement of the sanctions

Shirt sponsors Three also suspended their £40million deal with the club following the announcement of the sanctions

Chelsea were left unable to sell match tickets and were also forced to close the club shop, but existing staff and players will continue to be paid

Chelsea were left unable to sell match tickets and were also forced to close the club shop, but existing staff and players will continue to be paid

As it stands, the club cannot renew existing contracts - which effectively means Antonio Rudiger (right) and Cesar Azpilicueta (left) will leave the club in the summer

As it stands, the club cannot renew existing contracts – which effectively means Antonio Rudiger (right) and Cesar Azpilicueta (left) will leave the club in the summer

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea fan and British tycoon Nick Candy confirms he is still interested in making a bid to takeover the Blues with the sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich expected to quicken the sale process of the club 

British tycoon Nick Candy has confirmed that he is still interested in taking over Chelsea

British tycoon Nick Candy has confirmed that he is still interested in taking over Chelsea

British billionaire Nick Candy has confirmed he is still pursuing a bid for Chelsea, with the sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich expected to quicken the sale process once the confusion created by the extraordinary events has been clarified.

The 49-year-old property developer is a Chelsea fan, who is planning to attend Sunday’s Premier League home match against Newcastle and has pledged to put supporters at the centre of his plans for the club that will be jointly-funded with American investors.

‘We are examining the details of the announcement and we are still interested in making a bid,’ a spokesperson for Candy told Sportsmail. ‘Clearly this is a time of great uncertainty for all Chelsea fans.’

Candy is in talks with several potential investors over a joint venture, with the fact that the sale now has to be officially approved by the government doing little to dampen interest. 

Last year, Chelsea made £154m from commercial deals despite the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, before Covid struck, the club earned £200m in sponsorship.

Three’s announcement came hours after the company announced packages to support Ukrainian refugees arriving into the UK, including free pre-paid 30-day pay-as-you-go sim cards.

The £20,000 cap on travel for away matches also raises serious logistical questions for the club’s Champions League game in Lille next Wednesday, although Sky Sports reported claims by a Chelsea player’s agent that the club had already paid for this year’s travel in advance. 

There is also the prospect that Champions League games will be played effectively behind closed doors, as those tickets are often purchased separately from season tickets.

Executives are also said to be concerned about the maximum spend of £500,000 for hosting home games, which includes costs like stewarding, security and catering supplies.

On Thursday, Chelsea confirmed it ‘intended to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence’.

The embargo on ticket sales will cost the club more than £600,000 a game, based on a £47 minimum ticket cost for the 12,834 seats at Stamford Bridge that are not already occupied by season ticket holders. 

Abramovich, whose tainted billions propelled Chelsea from mid-table mediocrity to five Premier League titles, has been banned from doing business in the UK – meaning his plan to sell the club is on hold.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and his players were addressed by club officials ahead of their win at Norwich

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and his players were addressed by club officials ahead of their win at Norwich

Kit suppliers Nike are considering walking away which would see the club miss out on £540m

Kit suppliers Nike are considering walking away which would see the club miss out on £540m

Former Blues star Pat Nevin, who played 193 times for Chelsea, warned their future remains 'in serious danger' following Thursday's announcement that Abramovich was facing sanctions

Former Blues star Pat Nevin, who played 193 times for Chelsea, warned their future remains ‘in serious danger’ following Thursday’s announcement that Abramovich was facing sanctions

Chelsea Q&A: Will Thomas Tuchel’s side be able to COMPLETE the season after Roman Abramovich’s sanctioning? And could it lead to a fire-sale of their top stars during the summer window? 

Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government which has left Chelsea in limbo with their club activities now severely limited.

On Thursday the club were banned from selling match tickets and were even forced to close their club shop as Russian owner Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sportsmail takes a look what the sanctioning means for the club going forward, as Abramovich looks to sell the club unable to buy or sell players, as well not able to sign any of their current squad to new contracts. 

Roman Abramovich's sanctioning by the UK government has left Chelsea in limbo

Roman Abramovich’s sanctioning by the UK government has left Chelsea in limbo

Will Chelsea finish the season?

There are concerns at Stamford Bridge that the licence terms the Government have forced Chelsea to work under puts this at risk. However, the club failing to fulfil their fixtures helps nobody.

They are seeking amendments to the licence which they believe will allow them to complete the campaign.

Is Roman Abramovich still in control?

While the asset has been frozen, Abramovich is still the owner of Chelsea. The daily operations will be carried out by the board but Abramovich cannot profit from the running of the club.

Despite his sanctioning, Roman Abramovich is still in charge but can't profit from the club

Despite his sanctioning, Roman Abramovich is still in charge but can’t profit from the club

Will there be a player fire-sale?

No. Chelsea are unable to buy or sell players. The aim of the sanctions is to stop Abramovich from making money from his asset. A fire-sale would not be a good look.

What does it mean for fans?

Chelsea have around 28,000 season ticket holders. Both they and supporters who have already bought tickets for away matches will be permitted to attend. 

Again, the club will seek amendments to the licence to permit them to sell tickets for future matches. Brentford have already said they want their full allocation for the forthcoming London derby and are seeking urgent clarification.

A fire-sale would not be a good look as the sanctions are to stop Abramovich making money

A fire-sale would not be a good look as the sanctions are to stop Abramovich making money

The club will seek amendments so that they can sell tickets for future matches this season

The club will seek amendments so that they can sell tickets for future matches this season

What about cup ties not included in season tickets?

As it stands, the club could not sell tickets for any cup ties. That said, they will find allies at UEFA and the FA in trying to change that, with a view that fans should not be penalised.

Will they fall foul of Financial Fair Play? 

Yes, but it is likely that UEFA would make an exception thanks to what has now become an extraordinary case. The aim is to get the club into new hands. Putting off potential bidders with financial penalties is not helpful.

Can they still provide matchday catering?

Yes, supporters will still be able to buy food and drink at home matches.

Ministers are understood to be clear that it is ultimately a matter for Abramovich whether he sells, but any assets realised will remain frozen.

The club – which on Thursday marked its 117th birthday – cannot sell any merchandise itself, but retailers who already hold stock can continue to do so, as long as none of the money ends up in Chelsea’s hands.

The licence to continue operating will last until May 31, but can be ‘varied, revoked or suspended’ at any time. If the club were to end up in administration, they would receive a nine point penalty.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the aim of Thursday’s measures was to ensure that Abramovich cannot ‘benefit from his ownership’.

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea's history, winning 21 trophies - including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea’s history, winning 21 trophies – including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice 

Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.

‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.

‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’ 

‘Anyone connected to Vladimir Putin should be treated like a leper, but we just feel sad’: Chelsea fans have mixed feelings about Roman Abramovich’s reign and admit they are ‘worried’ about the club’s future after the Russian was sanctioned 

And so the bell has finally tolled on Roman Abramovich and perhaps even Chelsea as an elite entity within football.

A little after 9am, the statement dropped and so did an axe on a man we never really knew. Or chose not to.

Time was that we might call the government’s announcement of his sanctioning a bombshell, but these circumstances would make such terminology rather crass indeed.

Real explosions in Ukraine have shifted perspectives, and by midday on Thursday the faintest echoes were being heard around Stamford Bridge.

‘I look at this stadium and what Roman built and this is hard,’ said James Blount, a Chelsea fan of 40 years. ‘I really remember what it was like when we were s***.

‘So that is what you need to understand about what it has been like since Roman came in. That day in 2010 when we won the double, it was everything for me. He gave us memories I never thought we’d have. Now how are we meant to feel about it?

‘I know what the answer should be because of what is happening in Ukraine. Anyone connected to Vladimir Putin should be treated like a leper. But you ask a fan and we just feel a bit sad. He has to go, but it’s a real shame it has to be like this.’

Roman Abramovich has left Chelsea in an uncertain position after being sanctioned

Roman Abramovich has left Chelsea in an uncertain position after being sanctioned 

His close ties with Putin have left fans admitting he deserved to be punished, but mant are now concerned for the club's future

His close ties with Putin have left fans admitting he deserved to be punished, but mant are now concerned for the club’s future

As Blount spoke, a few dozen others were milling about. But it wasn’t a rally or a protest, even as the first of the changes kicked in.

At around 11am, the club store abruptly stopped doing business and asked punters to leave. Next it was the adjoining Millennium Hotel, which stopped taking bookings.

That, incidentally, was the hotel Abramovich threw open to NHS workers during the pandemic – folk loved him for that, as they did for 21 trophies across 19 years.

But we think differently about a lot of that now. ‘I am concerned about the club,’ said Ryan Hoskins, 28. He was one of 40 or so boarding a coach from the stadium for the Norwich fixture. 

‘I’m not sure many of us are thinking about the game. I can’t imagine how the players feel.

‘We are all worried about where the club will end up. But there is a bigger picture when you think what is happening in Ukraine.’

Fans can no longer buy tickets or merchandise while Abramovich is being sanctioned by the UK Government

Fans can no longer buy tickets or merchandise while Abramovich is being sanctioned by the UK Government

Certainly bigger than the one seen by those fans who chanted for Abramovich during the applause for Ukraine at Burnley on Saturday.

‘That was disgraceful,’ said Hoskins, but it was also indicative of football’s blinding tribal culture. For a time that insulated some from the realities of Abramovich’s wealth, but no longer.

‘There were always suspicions about the money,’ said David Brothwood, who was there in 1983 when Chelsea beat Bolton to avoid relegation to the third tier.

Some supporters have been vocal in their support of the owner amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but others have called the chanting 'disgraceful'

Some supporters have been vocal in their support of the owner amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but others have called the chanting ‘disgraceful’

There are fears that all of Chelsea's achievements under Abramovich could now be tainted

There are fears that all of Chelsea’s achievements under Abramovich could now be tainted

He added: ‘I was also in Moscow when they got to the Champions League final in 2008. Abramovich did that for us, so there are a lot of mixed feelings right now.

‘I have been going to Chelsea for 45 years. There has always been drama – on the pitch, off it, the fans, the players. Of course this isn’t like that – this is way bigger and no one can pretend it isn’t, but no one wanted it to end like this.

‘I will support them whatever comes next. But it might be a bit different. It just might.

Mobile phone firm Three AXES £40m shirt deal with Chelsea and staff are ALREADY laid off as club opens talks with Government over Roman Abramovich sanctions that will cost them £600,000 a game by BANNING them from ticket sales 

Mobile phone firm Three today suspended its £40million shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC after crippling sanctions were introduced against Roman Abramovich banning ticket and merchandise sales. 

The sanctions – which are part of a broader government package imposed against six other oligarchs – are expected to apply as long as Abramovich owns the club before being lifted in the event of him selling it. 

Despite the restrictions placed on both the billionaire and the club, ‘an application for a licence to sell the club would be considered’ by the Government, MailOnline understands.

The Russian tycoon would not be allowed to take any of the money from any prospective deal – with the club understood to be up for sale for around £3billion – and it would instead be determined by Downing Street.

Pat Nevin, who played for the club 193 times, later revealed on BBC 5Live that some members of the club’s staff had already been ‘partially laid off’ in the wake of today’s financial sanctions. 

The former Blues star, who still writes for the club’s website, also warned that Chelsea’s future remains ‘in serious danger’ and called on Abramovich to sell to the ‘right people’.

See also  Harry Kane: Never-seen-before pictures show England captain wearing kit with armband aged 14!

Three UK’s decision to suspend its sponsorship deal with Chelsea sets up a possible wave of corporate boycotts that could see the club deprived of tens of millions of pounds worth of revenue and facing financial meltdown.  

Car manufacturer Hyundai today said it is ‘currently assessing’ its contract with the West London side, while grocery delivery firm has placed its partnership ‘under review’. 

Analysts say other sponsors are likely to follow Three in the hope of avoiding ‘guilt by association’ with Abramovich, who officials say owes at least part of his £9.4billion fortune to his friendship with Vladimir Putin. 

Last year, Chelsea made £154m from commercial deals despite the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, before Covid struck, the club earned £200m in sponsorship.

Three’s announcement came hours after the company announced packages to support Ukrainian refugees arriving into the UK, including free pre-paid 30-day pay-as-you-go sim cards.  

A spokesman for the firm said today: ‘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.’  

Chelsea is today holding urgent talks with the government to try and alter the terms of its licence, which is intended to allow the club to do the ‘bare minimum’ to keep running. 

A £20,000 maximum spend on away travel is among the terms expected to be varied after it emerged the usual budget is far higher. 

The Treasury set the figure without consulting the club due to the need for secrecy, and ‘didn’t know how much it costs to run an away game’. 

It is understood the team are due to fly from London to Norwich at the weekend and the trip is set to cost ‘tens of thousands of pounds’.

‘Maybe we should make them get the Megabus to Norwich,’ one source joked to MailOnline.

The £20,000 cap also raises serious logistical questions for its Champions League game in Lille next Wednesday, although Sky Sports reported claims by a Chelsea player’s agent that the club had already paid for this year’s travel in advance. 

Executives are also said to be concerned about the maximum spend of £500,000 for hosting home games, which includes costs like stewarding, security and catering supplies. 

Today, Chelsea confirmed it ‘intended to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence’. 

Roman Abramovich will not be allowed to sell Chelsea, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities

Roman Abramovich will not be allowed to sell Chelsea, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities

The ticket page of the Chelsea FC website is currently down, with a message saying it is undergoing 'scheduled maintenance'

The ticket page of the Chelsea FC website is currently down, with a message saying it is undergoing ‘scheduled maintenance’ 

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Chelsea’s matchday store was shut today after the government announced sanctions that include banning it from selling any merchandise 

Former Blues star Pat Nevin, who played 193 times for Chelsea, warned the club's future remains 'in serious danger' following today's announcement that Abramovich was facing sanctions

Former Blues star Pat Nevin, who played 193 times for Chelsea, warned the club’s future remains ‘in serious danger’ following today’s announcement that Abramovich was facing sanctions

Martin Hardiman - seen with his son Peter, two, claimed he was the last customer in Chelsea's stadium shop before it closed today

Martin Hardiman – seen with his son Peter, two, claimed he was the last customer in Chelsea’s stadium shop before it closed today

Today, Chelsea's shirt sponsor, the phone and WiFi company Three, confirmed its partnership with the club was 'under review' (pictured is a security guard against Stamford Bridge this morning)

Today, Chelsea’s shirt sponsor, the phone and WiFi company Three, confirmed its partnership with the club was ‘under review’ (pictured is a security guard against Stamford Bridge this morning) 

The Next Matchday Countdown clock outside of Stamford Bridge today. The next game, against Newcastle, is on Sunday

The Next Matchday Countdown clock outside of Stamford Bridge today. The next game, against Newcastle, is on Sunday 

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea's history, winning 21 trophies - including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea’s history, winning 21 trophies – including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice 

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world. He now cannot sell any of them

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world. He now cannot sell any of them

The hunt is on for multi-million pound superyachts in British waters owned by Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska and other oligarchs who were warned by Boris Johnson today that there are 'no safe havens'

The hunt is on for multi-million pound superyachts in British waters owned by Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska and other oligarchs who were warned by Boris Johnson today that there are ‘no safe havens’

Chelsea captain and stalwart Cesar Azpilicueta admits today was ‘not a normal day’ but rallies his players to focus on results on the pitch

CesarAzpilicueta admitted the club had not had ‘a normal day’ but urged his side to face the matter at hand on the pitch of defeating Norwich.

The Blues were rocked by the news the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

A special licence allows the European champions to continue playing all of their fixtures due to its status as a ‘significant cultural asset’, but only ‘existing ticket holders’ – including fans with season tickets – will be allowed to attend games. Staff and players can still be paid.

And amid all the off-field issues, Thomas Tuchel’s squad have been putting the finishing touches to their preparations ahead of facing Norwich at Carrow Road on Thursday night.

And speaking to Premier League Productions, Azpilicueta insisted his team – sat third in the Premier League – are only focused on the match.

‘I have to admit that this has not been a normal day,’ he said. ‘We cannot control this matter. 

‘We come here and we’re focused on the game and we know we have to fight for the three points. We have to forget about the stuff that is happening outside.’  

The embargo on ticket sales will cost the club more than £600,000 a game, based on a £47 minimum ticket cost for the 12,834 seats at Stamford Bridge that are not already occupied by season ticket holders. 

Abramovich, whose tainted billions propelled Chelsea from mid-table mediocrity to five Premier League titles, has been banned from doing business in the UK – meaning his plan to sell the club is on hold.

Ministers are understood to be clear that it is ultimately a matter for Ambramovich whether he sells, but any assets realised will remain frozen. 

However, an insider admitted it is not a sustainable position for the football club. ‘The quicker the sale the better,’ they said.  A senior government source said there is no intention for the taxpayer to take full control of Chelsea. 

Chelsea’s status as a ‘significant cultural asset’ means it can continue playing, but Abramovich will be deprived of any profits.  

The club has been banned from selling home and away tickets, with only fans who have already bought tickets allowed to attend games.

There is also the prospect that Champions League games will be played effectively behind closed doors, as those tickets are often purchased separately from season tickets.

A source told Mailonline: ‘Stamford Bridge is not going to be empty … we don’t expect them to play behind closed doors. It does mean there may be some empty seats but not an empty ground.’

Chelsea will not be able to agree any new contracts, preventing it from engaging in the summer transfer market. 

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta and key central defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen could now leave for nothing when their contracts expire this summer. 

Azpilucueta, who has been with the club for a decade, admitted the club had ‘not had a normal day’ on Thursday but insisted his team – sat third in the Premier League – are only focused on their remaining matches.

‘I have to admit that this has not been a normal day,’ he said before their match with Norwich FC. ‘We cannot control this matter. 

‘We come here and we’re focused on the game and we know we have to fight for the three points.  We have to forget about the stuff that is happening outside.’   

Chelsea will continue to receive TV broadcast payments and prize money, but this will be frozen. Existing staff and players can continue to be paid.  

The three prospective buyers hoping to snap up Chelsea FC

By Jacob Thorburn for MailOnline 

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss

LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss (left) and LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly are understood to have made a firm bid for the club

The list of prospective suitors for Chelsea FC continues to slim down as Roman Abramovich faces renewed pressure to sell the club after he was today hit with personal financial sanctions.

March 15 had been the initial deadline for Chelsea’s next owner to submit their final bids for the club, but that could be complicated following today’s announcement on Abramovich facing sanctions. 

Although the restrictions placed on the billionaire prevent him from receiving any funds from a prospective sale, a special ‘application for a licence to sell’ could be considered by the Government. 

The Russian tycoon would not be allowed to take any of the money from any prospective deal – with the club understood to be up for sale for around £3billion – with the destination of sale proceeds instead being determined by Downing Street.   

Abramovich has hired the Raine Group, an American merchant bank, to help oversee the sale. It is believed around 20 parties have expressed an interest but only a handful are deemed to be credible suitors.  

Three names now appear to be squarely at the front of the queue: Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, his business partner Todd Boehly – who part owns the LA Dodgers – and British luxury property magnate Nick Candy. 

Boehly is a businessman and part owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team, where he holds a 20 per cent stake. He tried to buy Chelsea three years ago with a £2.2bn bid.

Wyss, 86, is a Swiss billionaire who made his fortune in manufacturing medical equipment and devices and has a net worth of just under £5bn.

But 49-year-old Nick Candy’s extensive portfolio of property development could also appeal to potential consortium investors given the need to improve Chelsea’s historic venue to increase matchday revenue.

A Chelsea fan himself and a long-term season-ticket holder, his interest comes alongside a £1.5bn plan to renovate Stamford Bridge, something which would tick the box of taking care of the club’s future which Abramovich wants to see in a prospective buyer. 

The club – which today marks its 117th birthday – cannot sell any merchandise itself, but retailers who already hold stock can continue to do so, as long as none of the money ends up in Chelsea’s hands.

The licence to continue operating will last until May 31, but can be ‘varied, revoked or suspended’ at any time. If the club were to end up in administration, they would receive a nine point penalty.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the aim of today’s measures was to ensure that Abramovich cannot ‘benefit from his ownership’.

The Russian oligarch’s name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute’s applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation.  

Today’s news has left fans of the club reeling, with one declaring it ‘the end of Chelsea as we know it’ – while rivals mocked the club, saying ‘Stamford Bridge is falling down’.  

Although the shape of Chelsea’s long-term future has naturally been thrown into doubt, but Government ministers were quick to insist any damage would be limited.

Nadine Dorries said on Twitter: ‘Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

‘Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. 

‘We have been working hard to ensure the club & the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.

‘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.

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

Today, Sir Keir Starmer said the Government’s ‘slow’ response to imposing sanctions on oligarchs amid the Ukraine invasion bears ‘echoes of Afghanistan’.

When asked about sanctions on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, he said: ‘I’m slightly frustrated, we called for this weeks ago and whilst we’re very supportive of the action the Government has taken on sanctions, there are echoes of Afghanistan here. 

‘We need to go further and faster on this.’

He added: ‘I called for these sanctions against Abramovich two weeks ago now and a feature of the Government’s reaction here is that they are too slow.

‘I support what they are doing and we voted for these sanctions to go through, but we do want a Government to go further and faster, and not be so slow.’

When asked who else the Government should be sanctioning, Sir Keir said: ‘Every oligarch and those supporting Putin in any way should be sanctioned.

Oligarchs’ lawyers set to lose cash cow clients: ‘Watertight’ sanctions will be tough to challenge 

By Dan Sales for MailOnline

Lawyers branded ‘amoral’ in Parliament were this morning facing the reality of life without their lucrative Russian oligarch bankrollers – after the UK government froze their assets. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and six other rich tycoons were hit with the powerful UK sanctions just after 9am. 

But any thoughts the 55-year-old Russian billionaire or any of the remaining six could challenge the decision look extremely unlikely and previously untested. The road to any appeal is fraught with problems, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has previously vowed sanctions were ‘legally watertight so that when we hit them, the hit sticks’.

If individuals do try to challenge the decision, it forces a government minister into carrying out a review. Then if they do not overthrow the decision, the next option is a legal challenge in the courts which can also be extremely difficult. People who have been sanctioned have to get a special licence from the Treasury to even pay their lawyers or any court fees.

Abramovich’s lawyers of choice are Harbottle & Lewis, who as recently as last month were sending legal letters stating he was not as risk of any sanctions. They insisted: ‘Mr Abramovich has no responsibility or influence over the behaviour of the Russian State, or provides them with support, nor is he close to the Kremlin or connected to corruption.’ It means they will be presumably surprised to read the details of the UK Sanctions decision. 

‘So, we want more sanctions against more people, further and faster, we will support the Government in this, support the whole House on this, but they do need to go further and faster.’ 

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy welcomed the fact that Abramovich had ‘at last’ been sanctioned. 

The Labour MP said in a statement: ‘At last! This is the right decision. But it should not have taken the Government weeks.

‘Too few oligarchs linked to Putin’s rogue regime have so far faced sanctions from the UK Government. We are lagging far behind allies in the EU and the US.

‘It is right that, under pressure from Labour, the Government U-turned to strengthen sanctions legislation. 

Ministers must now move faster to continue to close the sanctions gap.’ 

Today a Chelsea Supporters’ Trust spokesman said: ‘The CST notes with concern the Government’s statement regarding the owner.

‘Supporters must be involved in any conversation regarding ongoing impacts on the club and its global fan base.

‘The CST implores the Government to conduct a swift process to minimise the uncertainty over Chelsea’s future, for supporters and for supporters to be given a golden share as part of a sale of the club.’

Chelsea said: ‘By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. 

‘However, the UK Government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities. 

‘We will fulfil our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence.

‘This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible. 

‘We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities. 

‘The club will update further when it is appropriate.’ 

The Chelsea website had a page announcing that tickets for Middlesbrough away would not longer be on sale

The Chelsea website had a page announcing that tickets for Middlesbrough away would not longer be on sale 

Abramovich's name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute's applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation

Abramovich’s name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute’s applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation 

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A new licence allows the club to continue playing all its fixtures due to its status as a ‘significant cultural asset’, but only season ticket holders will be allowed to attend games at Stamford Bridge (pictured) 

A sign today announcing the club megastore had shut

A fan making a last minute purchase. Other retailers with existing stock can still sell it, as long as the proceeds do not end up in Chelsea's coffers

A sign today announcing the club megastore had shut (left) and a fan making a last minute purchase (right). Other retailers with existing stock can still sell it, as long as the proceeds do not end up in Chelsea’s coffers 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visit the Cammell Laird shipyard in Merseyside today

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visit the Cammell Laird shipyard in Merseyside today 

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British billionaire Nick Candy was the latest high-profile business magnate to throw their hat into the ring for Chelsea’s sale, amid a host of suitors for the Champions League holders.

Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly were also in the running, with more than 10 credible parties understood to have been compiling bids.

The Chelsea squad will continue to prepare for Thursday’s Premier League clash at Norwich as normal, but everyone at the club will now set about examining the details of the current situation.     

Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska, has been hit with the same sanctions – as have Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’. 

Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.

‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.

‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’ 

The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.  

Mr Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150million Kensington mansion, a £22million West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship.

The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m.

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

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

The Foreign Office announced the new sanctions with top-trumps style images on social media

The Foreign Office announced the new sanctions with top-trumps style images on social media

‘Stamford Bridge is falling!’: Gloating rival fans take to social media to mock Chelsea 

By Charlotte Daly for MailOnline

Fans have taken to social media to discuss the fact Roman Abramovich was named among seven oligarchs to be hit with an asset freeze and travel ban under the new UK sanctions. 

The government’s decision to prohibit Abramovich from completing transactions with UK individuals and businesses as been described as the ‘best thing’ to have happened to the English top-flight by rival fans. 

Abramovich, whose tainted billions propelled Chelsea from mid-table mediocrity to five Premier League titles, has been banned from doing business in the UK – meaning his plan to sell the club is on hold. 

The tycoon with an estimated worth of £10billion made his money selling assets purchased from the rubble of the Russian state when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s. 

But in the wake of the UK government hitting him with personal sanctions and asset freezes – meaning any potential £3bn sale of the club has been postponed – rival football fans have been mercilessly mocking their Premier League foes.

Poking fun at the club’s current woes, Twitter users have even suggested some fans could be tempted to switch allegiances to teams with other lucrative owners, such as Saudi-backed Newcastle FC.

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They believe the ministers’ decision to sanction Abramovich will lead to the ‘end of the London based club’ as the restrictions will come into force before the Russian-Israeli billionaire is able to offload the Premier League side.

As a result, Chelsea’s rival supporters have flocked to social media to praise the decision to sanction the club’s owner and mock the implications it will have on the London side.  

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Rival football fans have been mercilessly mocking their Premier League foes and joke that Blues followers would swap allegiances to other wealthy clubs

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Abramovich, whose tainted billions propelled Chelsea from mid-table mediocrity to five Premier League titles, has been banned from doing business in the UK – meaning his plan to sell the club is on hold

One fan wrote: ‘Please be the end of times for this club’. Another added: ‘I’m afraid London is red. Chelsea downfall starts now.’

One supporter said: ‘So he can’t sell Chelsea or fund it? Amazing news.’ While one added: ‘To say ABOUT TIME, is an understatement!’. 

Another Twitter user said: ‘The British government did something that made me happy this morning. That is a welcome change.’

While others took to the social media platforms to share memes celebrating the fact Chelsea were in a difficult situation.  

Chelsea FC is his most valuable British asset, after the oligarch transformed its fortunes from outside challengers to Premier League giants with the help of Jose Mourinho and huge signings like Didier Drogba, so its sale will be a personal blow to the billionaire industrialist. 

Labour’s Chris Bryant, using parliamentary privilege to avoid legal action, alleged the tycoon is selling his home and an apartment because he is ‘terrified of being sanctioned’, adding that he feared the government will soon run out of time to act.      

See also  Plenty for Thomas Frank to relish after Ivan Toney’s England call-up | Brentford

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich ‘is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’.

‘ABRAMOVICH is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom ABRAMOVICH has had a close relationship for decades.

‘This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia.

‘This includes tax breaks received by companies linked to ABRAMOVICH, buying and selling shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and the contracts received in the run up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

‘Therefore, ABRAMOVICH has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Government of Russia.’ 

The developments come as prospective billionaire buyers continue to circle the club and hope to swoop in amid any potential Abramovich-sanctioned fire sale.

The oligarch had hired the Raine Group, an American merchant bank, to help oversee the club’s sale. It is believed around 20 parties have expressed an interest but only a handful are deemed to be credible suitors.  

Three names now appear to be squarely at the front of the queue: Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, his business partner Todd Boehly – who part owns the LA Dodgers – and British luxury property magnate Nick Candy. 

Boehly is a businessman and part owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team, where he holds a 20 per cent stake. He tried to buy Chelsea three years ago with a £2.2bn bid.

Wyss, 86, is a Swiss billionaire who made his fortune in manufacturing medical equipment and devices and has a net worth of just under £5bn.

The pair had hoped that by publicly announcing their intention to buy the club early, and by lodging a formal offer last week, they would be able to effectively skip the queue of wealthy prospective buyers. 

But property tycoon Nick Candy, 49, is a new name in the race and is said to want to prioritise the re-development of Stamford Bridge should he take over.

His extensive portfolio of property development could also appeal to potential consortium investors given the need to improve Chelsea’s historic venue to increase matchday revenue. 

Candy and his younger brother Christian are British luxury-property developers, estimated to share a joint net worth of £1.5billion. 

Together they formed Candy & Candy, a property development company in 1999. The brothers’ past high-profile projects include London’s One Hyde Park, NoHo Square and the redevelopment of the former Chelsea Barracks.

Candy is expected to pour some of his own worth into the takeover but is also in talks with American investors about forming a consortium.

Today’s surprise move came as Defence minister James Heappey insisted the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine was a war crime and called for Putin and Russian generals to be held to account.

Mr Heappey stressed that the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but said in a round of interviews: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.’  

The comments came as it was confirmed three people, including a child, died when warplanes bombed the hospital in beseiged Mariupol as pregnant women gave birth in the basement.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the attack as an ‘atrocity’ and ‘the ultimate proof of genocide against Ukrainians’.

The hospital, in the besieged city of Mariupol, was hit ‘several times’ by high-explosive Russian bombs – one of which missed the building by yards and left a crater two-stories deep, officials said. 

Other bombs scored ‘direct hits’, President Zelensky said, wounding at least 17 people.

Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister, said there can be ‘no doubt’ the hospital was deliberately ‘targeted’ by Russia in a chilling echo tactics used during the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo while Putin’s men were fighting alongside dictator Basahr al-Assad’s troops. 

Moscow denies targeting civilian facilities. 

Abramovich is among six other Russian oligarchs worth £15bn have had their assets FROZEN by the UK and are banned from travelling to Britain for having ‘blood on their hands’

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor and David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent for MailOnline

Roman Abramovich is among seven oligarchs to be hit with an asset freeze and travel bans under brutal new UK sanctions unveiled today.

The government has announced that the owner of Chelsea FC will also be prohibited from transactions with UK individuals and businesses. The government could still grant him a licence to sell the club, but will need to be assured that he will not benefit financially and any proceeds would remain frozen.

Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska, has been hit with the same measures – as have Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’.

Seven more oligarchs sanctioned by UK 

Roman Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the UK Government today. 

The Government estimates his wealth at more than £9billion and notes his stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and ownership of Chelsea FC.

‘He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin,’ a Government spokesman said.

The other oligarchs sanctioned today are: 

  • Oleg Deripaska: Estimated wealth of £2billion and a multi-million-pound Uk property portfolio. Subject to US sanctions since 2018. Has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers.
  • Igor Sechin: Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. The Government said he is ‘particularly close and influential ally of Putin’. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Andrey Kostin: Chairman of VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia. A ‘close associate of Putin’ who has ‘long supported Kremlin objectives through VTB Bank’. Net worth of £379 million. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Alexei Miller: Chief executive of  of energy company Gazprom. Served under Putin when autocrat was mayor of St Petersburg. Already sanctioned by the US.
  • Nikolai Tokarev: President of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft. Former KGB agent who served alongside Putin in East Germany. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Dmitri Lebedev: Chairman of Bank Rossiya, which is ‘widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank’. Sanctioned by the US in 2016.

The Foreign Office said the Economic Crime Bill coming into force next week ‘will allow the UK Government to move further and faster than ever on sanctions’.

Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.

‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.

‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’

The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a ‘special licence’.

The team will be able to play fixtures and pay staff, but trading in players seems to be off the table.

Only ‘existing ticket holders’ will be able to attend matches.

It appears that means only season ticket holders and away fans will not be permitted. 

There is also the prospect that Champions League games will be played effectively behind closed doors, as those tickets are often purchased separately from season tickets.

Merchandise sales are also expected to end. 

Ms Dorries said the aim was to ensure that Abramovich cannot ‘benefit from his ownership of the club’. 

The surprise move came as Defence minister James Heappey insisted the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine was a war crime and called for Putin and Russian generals to be held to account.

Mr Heappey stressed that the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but said in a round of interviews: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.’ 

The comments came as it was confirmed three people, including a child, died when warplanes bombed the hospital in besieged Mariupol while pregnant women gave birth in the basement.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the attack as an ‘atrocity’ and ‘the ultimate proof of genocide against Ukrainians’. 

The hospital, in the besieged city of Mariupol, was hit ‘several times’ by high-explosive Russian bombs – one of which missed the building by yards and left a crater two-stories deep, officials said. Other bombs scored ‘direct hits’, President Zelensky said, wounding at least 17 people.

Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister, said there can be ‘no doubt’ the hospital was deliberately ‘targeted’ by Russia in a chilling echo tactics used during the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo while Putin’s men were fighting alongside dictator Basahr al-Assad’s troops. Moscow denies targeting civilian facilities. 

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Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska (pictured), has also been hit with the same measures

Nikolai Tokarev

Igor Sechin

Nikolai Tokarev (left) and Igor Sechin have also been targeted by the UK government 

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol’s maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller

Dmitri Lebedev

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller (left) and Bank Rossiya chair Dmitri Lebedev (right) have been added to the UK list

VTB Bank president Andrei Kostin is now under the UK sanctions regime

VTB Bank president Andrei Kostin is now under the UK sanctions regime 

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Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a 'special licence'

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a ‘special licence’

Mr Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150million Kensington mansion, a £22million West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship. 

The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m.

Chelsea FC is his most valuable British asset, after the oligarch transformed its fortunes from outside challengers to Premier League giants with the help of Jose Mourinho and huge signings like Didier Drogba, so its sale will be a personal blow to the billionaire industrialist.

Labour’s Chris Bryant, using parliamentary privilege to avoid legal action, alleged the tycoon is selling his home and an apartment because he is ‘terrified of being sanctioned’, adding that he feared the government will soon run out of time to act.

Ms Dorries said on Twitter: ‘Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

‘Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chlesea & its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.

‘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 & 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 is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world

Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich 'is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch'

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich ‘is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’

Ministers are in discussions with the Premier League over how the sanctions will affect fans planning to attend Chelsea games.

Existing already paid-for tickets for games at Stamford Bridge will be honoured but they will discuss ways of allowing away fans and others, including fans attending Champions League ties to attend without funnelling cash to the club.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are at home to Newcastle on Sunday before a European game in Lille next Wednesday.

A source told Mailonline: ‘Stamford Bridge is not going to be empty … we don’t expect them to play behind closed doors. It does mean there may be some empty seats but not an empty ground.’ 

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich ‘is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’. 

‘ABRAMOVICH is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom ABRAMOVICH has had a close relationship for decades. 

‘This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia. 

‘This includes tax breaks received by companies linked to ABRAMOVICH, buying and selling shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and the contracts received in the run up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup. 

‘Therefore, ABRAMOVICH has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Government of Russia.’ 

Earlier, Mr Heappey told Sky News of the Mariupol shelling: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime. 

‘Clearly there is evidence to be gathered in which to prove it is a war crime, and Western countries are working together to make sure that evidence is gathered in the best way so people can be held to account.

‘What Putin is doing is not a war waged between two militaries. Right now he has besieged a number of Ukrainian cities and he has waged a war against Ukrainian civilians.’ 

He added on BBC Breakfast: ‘We ask ourselves the question how did this happen? Was it an indiscriminate use of artillery or missiles into a built-up area, or was a hospital explicitly targeted?

‘Both are equally despicable, both, as the Ukrainians have pointed out, would amount to a war crime.

‘So, what matters beyond the outrage of the fact that this has happened in the first place is to make sure all this is catalogued so when – and they surely will be – President Putin and everybody in the military chain of command beneath him – because war crimes are committed at every level not just the ultimate decisionmaker – people will be held to account for what they are doing in. It’s utterly despicable.’

The aftermath of the Russia bombardment on the children and maternity hospital in Mariupol

The aftermath of the Russia bombardment on the children and maternity hospital in Mariupol 

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital

A woman outside the maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol

A woman outside the maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol

The wreckage of the maternity hospital after the Russian bombardment in Mariupol

The wreckage of the maternity hospital after the Russian bombardment in Mariupol

Pressed on whether he thinks the attack constitutes a war crime, he replied: ‘Yes, if you deliberately target a piece of civilian infrastructure like a hospital, yes.

‘If you use indiscriminate artillery into an urban area without due regard for the reality, you could hit a protected site like a hospital, then that too in my view is.’

Many of the pregnant women present at the hospital were hiding the the basement at the time of the strike on the orders of hospital authorities – a move indicative of the harsh bombardment suffered by Mariupol’s citizens over the past week, and one which likely saved their lives.

Zelensky himself posted a video showing the badly damaged hospital buildings, filmed inside a destroyed ward room with its windows blown out and ceiling partially collapsed. More footage showed a car park covered in rubble and the smouldering wrecks of vehicles as injured families staggered into the freezing air while snow fell. 

‘Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity,’ the President tweeted.

He then took to Telegram, where he released a video statement from the presidential palace in Kyiv in which he said the hospital strike ‘is the ultimate proof that what is happening is the genocide of Ukrainians’.

‘Europeans, you can’t say you didn’t see what is happening. You have to tighten the sanctions until Russia can’t continue their savage war,’ he said.

‘What kind of country bombs hospitals? Is afraid of hospitals? Of a maternity ward? 

‘Was someone insulting Russians? Were pregnant women shooting in direction of Rostov? Was it the ”denazification” of a hospital? What the Russians did at Mariupol was beyond savagery.’

In a separate interview with Sky News, Zelensky added that Russian invaders want Ukrainians ‘to feel like animals’ by preventing them from accessing food or water, and implored NATO and the West to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

‘They want us to feel like animals because they blocked our cities… because they don’t want our people to get some food or water.

‘Don’t wait for me to ask you several times, a million times, to close the sky. You have to phone us, to our people who lost their children, and say ”sorry we didn’t do it yesterday.”  

Rescuers on the scene at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are locked in a race against time as they try to free survivors from the rubble after the complex suffered a 'direct hit' by Russian rockets yesterday

Rescuers on the scene at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are locked in a race against time as they try to free survivors from the rubble after the complex suffered a ‘direct hit’ by Russian rockets yesterday

An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

An official death toll for the heinous attack has not yet been established but rescuers are working desperately to find and free those still trapped under the rubble with temperatures in the besieged city set to plunge to minus 4 degrees C overnight

An official death toll for the heinous attack has not yet been established but rescuers are working desperately to find and free those still trapped under the rubble with temperatures in the besieged city set to plunge to minus 4 degrees C overnight

A Russian attack severely damaged the children's hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were 'people, children under the wreckage' of the hospital and called the strike an 'atrocity'

A Russian attack severely damaged the children’s hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were ‘people, children under the wreckage’ of the hospital and called the strike an ‘atrocity’

Boris Johnson has condemned the strike as ‘depraved’ and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military. 

‘There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless,’ the Prime Minister declared. 

‘The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes,’ he added.  

Mr Johnson later on Wednesday committed to enacting the ‘maximum economic cost’ on Russia in wake of the bombing, while Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to say aggression like Vladimir Putin’s must ‘never again’ be allowed to ‘grow unchecked’ in her speech tomorrow in Washington.  

Ms Truss will make comparisons between the Russian president’s actions and the World Trade Centre terror attack in 2001, and will urge the international community to change its approach to dealing with antagonistic world leaders.

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki also commented: ‘As a mother – I know a number of you are mothers – it is horrifying to see the barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country.’

Mariupol’s city council said the hospital had suffered ‘colossal’ damage but did not immediately give a figure of the wounded and dead. 

The deputy head of Mr Zelensky’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said authorities are trying to establish the number of victims.

Ukrainian MP Dmitry Gurin told the BBC: ‘There are a lot of dead and wounded women. We don’t know about children or newborns yet.’ 

Video footage from the aftermath of the attack showed that large parts of the hospital had completely collapsed, while blood soaked mattresses were pictured lying in hallways. 

‘Russia committed a huge crime,’ said Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, standing in the ruins. ‘It is a war crime without any justification.’  

Mariupol has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week, with food, water and electricity cut off several days ago – with the Red Cross describing conditions there as ‘apocalyptic’. 

The head of the Ukrainian Red Cross said yesterday’s strike will likely cause a complete collapse of paediatric care in Mariupol, as much of the hospital’s equipment and the paediatric care wards were reduced to ashes.  

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

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A Ukrainian soldier examines a huge crater caused by one of the Russian rockets, which fell just in front of a hospital building at the maternity hospital in Mariupol 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike as 'depraved' and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike as ‘depraved’ and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military

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Ukrainian citizens are pictured on the outskirts of Mariupol dropping bodies into a mass grave as the city’s inhabitants work to remove the dead amid brutal shelling from Russian troops

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Ukraine has rejected most Russian evacuation routes because they lead to Russian soil or that of its ally, Belarus, while routes that Ukraine has proposed have come under bombardment. The only successful evacuation to take place so far has been from Sumy to Poltava (in green)

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Local official Pavlo Kyrylenko confirmed the fears in a post on Facebook: The maternity ward in the city centre, the children’s ward and the therapy ward at the hospital – all destroyed in the Russian air raid.’

Just hours before the hospital was hit, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that 3,000 babies were without food or medicines and begged for a humanitarian corridor to allow them to flee. 

Moscow had promised a ceasefire in the city today so civilians could be evacuated, but failed for the fourth time to keep its word – a move Kyrylenko said ‘crossed the line of humanity’ before declaring Russians should ‘stop calling yourselves human beings.’

Residents of Mariupol were pictured on Wednesday dumping bodies into mass graves dug on the outskirts of the city in a desperate attempt to remove the dead amid the sustained Russian bombardment. 

It is not the first time that Russian airstrikes have targeted hospitals. While fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad in Syria in 2016, Putin’s generals were accused of ‘deliberately and systematically’ blowing up hospitals as a way of weakening the city of Aleppo ahead of a ground assault. 

Observers have suggested that Russia is now using a Syria-style battleplan against Ukraine after its early precision strikes failed.

The Ukrainian Healthcare Center, a think-tank based in the country, says that between the outbreak of fighting on February 24 and yesterday, their team documented 42 cases of Russian forces attacking either healthcare facilities or medics in order to deliberately provoke a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Hospitals had been struck in every theatre where Russian forces were operating, the think-tank said, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.

‘The humanitarian catastrophe is a part of Russia’s hybrid war. [It] intends to spread panic, create a flow of refugees at the borders and force the Ukrainian government to surrender,’ said Pavlo Kovtonyuk, co-founder of the think-tank.

The bombing took place during what was supposed to be a ceasefire in Mariupol so that civilians could evacuate. It marks the fourth time a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ out of the city has failed because Russian forces opened fire. 

The mayor of Izyum, to the east of Kharkiv, said evacuations that were supposed to be underway there yesterday also had to stop because Russians were bombing the escape route. But in Sumy, a short distance away, some civilians had managed to make it out. Successful evacuations also took place in Enerhodar, in the south, with women and children able to leave.

It is feared the evacuations are simply a precursor to Russia stepping up its bombardment of the cities to wear down dogged Ukrainian defenders before rolling in troops and tanks to capture them. CIA Director William Burns, briefing Congress on Putin’s state of mind Tuesday, warned the ‘angry and frustrated’ despot is ‘likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.’ 

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Giving an update on the military situation yesterday afternoon, Ukrainian commanders said Russian units continue to try and surround the capital Kyiv with attacks taking place to the west and north-east of the city, with several highways blocked.

New footage released on Wednesday purported to show Russian armour just 13 miles from Kyiv as the invaders pushed through the town of Irpin. 

Fighting also raged close to the city of Sumy in an attempt to surround Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, commanders said. Battles also broke out around the city of Mykolaiv in the south, as Russians attempted to push out from Kherson towards Odessa but were turned back. 

Ukrainian commanders also said Russian military police had rounded up 400 activists protesting against the invasion in the occupied city of Kherson – as the long arm of Vladimir Putin’s police state reached across the border to grab people on foreign soil.  

Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that some conscripts had been sent to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine, just days after Putin promised that only professional soldiers would be sent in. 

Some associations of soldiers’ mothers in Russia had raised concerns about a number of conscripts going incommunicado at the start of what Kremlin calls a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, suggesting they could have been sent to fight despite a lack of adequate training. 

The revelation comes just one week after Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally ‘fake’ news about the military. 

Roman Abramovich’s FROZEN fortune: From £3BN Chelsea FC, two superyachts worth combined £1BN, £200M of homes and £314M of planes… the Russian oligarch’s multi-billion assets now sanctioned by UK government

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter for MailOnline

Roman Abramovich has today had at least £3.2billion of UK assets frozen, preventing him carrying out a fire sale of Chelsea FC and his London homes.    

Abramovich is worth £10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.  

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m. 

Chelsea FC is his most valuable British asset, after the oligarch transformed its fortunes from outside challengers to Premier League giants with the help of Jose Mourinho and huge signings like Didier Drogba. 

But now the Russian oligarch has been prohibited from transactions with UK individuals and businesses – meaning his plan to sell the West London club looks impossible, and may be heading to court. Effective immediately, Chelsea is banned from selling match tickets, signing new players and must even close its club shop.

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The Russian tycoon regularly took his family along to watch Chelsea matches, and is pictured here with his third wife, Dasha Zhukova

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship. The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

The billionaire recently bought a £264m Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet. The 50-seater aircraft is the world’s most expensive private jet with a base cost of £188m and a rumoured £76m of additional equipment to the billionaire’s taste, Forbes reported, citing industry sources. 

Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta are among FIVE Chelsea stars now set to LEAVE for nothing this summer 

By Matt Davies for MailOnline

A number of key first-team players are set to depart Chelsea this summer after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government on Thursday morning, a decision which has thrown the London club into turmoil.

Included are club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and key central defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, whose contracts are set to expire this summer.

Abramovich was one of seven oligarchs to be hit with an asset freeze, not only making his plan to sell the club impossible but also having significant ramifications on the side’s day-to-day functions.

Chelsea’s status as a ‘significant cultural asset’ has seen the club granted a special licence to continue playing, with their Premier League clash against Norwich on Thursday night going ahead as planned.

Abramovich will be deprived of any profits, however, with the club also banned from selling match tickets or signing new players moving forward.

Crucially, they won’t be able to tie any of their players down to new contracts, though they will continue to be paid in full, alongside all staff members at the club.

It means 25-year-old midfielder Charly Musonda Jr will depart when his contract expires this summer, alongside loanee Saul Niguez, as Chelsea will be unable to activate the existing option to buy for the Atletico Madrid star.

More of a concern for manager Thomas Tuchel is the futures of Azpilicueta, Rudiger and Christensen, all of whom had been heavily linked with exits prior to the sanction.

Rudiger, 29, has been linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle of late, despite previously refusing to rule out the possibility he could extend his contract. 

It was last tracked to Dubai six days ago. Meanwhile, his £50m Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – was last seen in Ankara, Turkey, five days ago. 

Abramovich also owns a fleet of supercars valued at more than £16million, believed to be in the UK. Among the high end vehicles are a Porsche 911 GT1 Evo, a Ferrari FXX, a Aston Martin Vulcan and a Maserati MC12 Corsa. The fleet also includes a Pagani Zonda R, of which only 15 have ever been produced and come with a price tag of £2.5m. 

Abramovich has seven children from two of his ex-wives. The eldest, Anna, 29, is a Columbia University philosophy graduate who lives in New York, while Arkadiy, 27, is an industrial tycoon with substantial oil and gas investments. 

Sofia, 26, lives in London and the ‘wild child’ ‘of the family, recently posted a message on Instagram attacking Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. Less is known about Arina, 20, and Ilya, 18, or Aaron, 11 and Leah Lou, 7, who were both born in New York to his third wife, Dasha. 

Abramovich’s current location is unknown, but he has recently been in Belarus ‘trying to help’ negotiate an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine following its illegal invasion of the country.   

As pressure grows to punish anyone seen having aided Putin’s regime, here is a round-up of Abramovich’s assets in Britain, as well as yachts, cars and planes that are strewn across the world.   

Chelsea FC: £3bn

The West London club is the jewel of Abramovich’s empire, so his decision to put it up for sale for a reported £3bn – as revealed today – must have been personally painful. 

Now that is impossible due to the sanctions. 

It is understood that the Russian was targeting American buyers as investment from China, the Far East and Eastern Europe has dried up for clear political reasons, although there are major doubts that any potential buyer will meet his ambitious valuation. 

American bank Raine Group is overseeing the sale, with prospective buyers given until just Friday to file ‘indicative bids’, the NY Times reported – suggesting Abramovich is keen to seal a quick deal. 

Raine Group first acted for Chelsea in 2018 after talks with US private equity firm Silverlake and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe broke up without reaching an agreement. 

The club has effectively been for sale ever since due to Abramovich’s conflict with the UK government after the Home Office declined to issue him a visa, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine giving him fresh impetus to sell. 

Abramovich wants a minimum of £3bn to sell Chelsea as he invites bids for the club. But there are emerging doubts that the Russian oligarch will receive anywhere near that mark.

There is a sense that securing an American buyer, potentially through a hedge fund, might be the best route towards a sale. 

But Abramovich’s links with a Russian regime that has caused so much destruction in Ukraine could lead to reluctance from interested parties to deal with Chelsea. 

Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m

Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m 

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, worth £4.3bn, claims he has been approached to consider buying Chelsea, potentially as part of a consortium.

‘Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,’ Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick.

‘I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich. I have to wait four to five days now. 

Abramovich’s £16m fleet of motors (including one of just 15 Pagani Zonda supercars ever produced)   

Pagani Zonda R – £2.5million

Porsche 911 GT1 Evo – £1.7m

Ferrari FXX – £1.6m

Bugatti Veyron – £1.5m

Aston Martin Vulcan – £1.2m

Maserati MC12 Corsa – £1.1m

Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR – £1m

2 x Maybach 62 Limousines – £1m each  

Ferrari 488 GT3 – £675,000

Porsche Carrera GT – £650,000

Rolls-Royce Corniche- £600,000 (inc. £500,000 ‘VIP 1’ number plate)

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 – £300,000

Ferrari 360 – £120,000

Tesla Model S – £100,000

Lamborghini Reventon – £840,000 

TOTAL: £16m

‘Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2 billion. But Chelsea has no money. As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price.’

However, there is doubt whether a consortium style takeover would have longevity given the huge financial demands expected at a club the size of Chelsea. 

The Russian oligarch has spent time in the United Arab Emirates in recent weeks with a view to transferring part of his wealth there, Sportsmail understands.  

Sources claim Abramovich believes Chelsea is worth north of £3bn – as much as £4bn – but selling it is now impossible.

It seems inevitable that the Russian businessman will have to lower his expectations, but whether anyone is willing to offer as high as the £3bn that he would consider is unclear.

Abramovich attempted to step back from the daily running of Chelsea on Saturday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The oligarch has already tried to hand the ‘stewardship and care’ of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation trustees. 

London property empire: £200m +

Chris Bryant claim in the Commons that Abramovich had been looking to sell ‘his home and a flat’ is thought to refer to his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m. 

Staff at his Kensington property, which is on the same road as several high-security embassies, were told to expect viewings, according to The Times. It is not clear yet if he managed it, but lawyers have said this would be unlikely.

Chinese buyers are said to have been interested in the mansion, but a sale could be a drawn out protracted affair given the cost and due diligence agents would have to carry out.

Abramovich has become a less frequent visitor to London in recent years following issues with his entrepreneurial visa. He has Israeli and Portuguese citizenship on top of being a Russian national.

His whereabouts are not known after he was reported to be in Belarus to assist as an unlikely broker in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine on Monday.

The tycoon also owns a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m

The tycoon also owns a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m 

Abramovich’s London property portfolio is also said to include a flat in Cheyne Terrace, Chelsea, which was purchased for £8.75million in 2017 and includes a high-tech temperature-controlled wine cellar.

It is close to three other properties that overlook the Thames, bought for £25million, that he had once intended to knock together and turn into a £100million super-home.

However Abramovich, who made his money selling assets acquired from the state following the fall of the Soviet Union, scrapped the plan and sold up after he relented to local uproar.

Abramovich became an Israeli citizen in 2018 after his British visa expired and reportedly owns most of the properties through a holding company called Fordstam

And land registry records show that since the expiration of his visa he transferred 11 properties to the business.

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Sofia Abramovich, one of his daughters with second wife Irina. She recently posted an anti-Putin meme on Instagram, calling for an end to the war with Ukraine

Sofia regularly shares envy-inducing snaps on social media, which reflect her love of horses, champagne and exotic holidays

Sofia regularly shares envy-inducing snaps on social media, which reflect her love of horses, champagne and exotic holidays

Sofia joined a chorus of other wealthy Russian who have expressed their disgust at Putin's actions

Her Instagram post

With her Instagram post earlier this week (right), 27-year-old Sofia joined a chorus of other wealthy Russian who have expressed their disgust at Putin’s actions 

Abramovich has gone through three divorces. He is pictured with his first wife, Olga, who he met when he was 20 and she was a 23-year-old daughter of a high-ranking government diplomat

Abramovich has gone through three divorces. He is pictured with his first wife, Olga, who he met when he was 20 and she was a 23-year-old daughter of a high-ranking government diplomat

Abramovich's second wife, Irina, a London-based former Aeroflot stewardess who wed the Russian tycoon in 1991. She is seen cheering on Chelsea against Tottenham in 2005

Abramovich’s second wife, Irina, a London-based former Aeroflot stewardess who wed the Russian tycoon in 1991. She is seen cheering on Chelsea against Tottenham in 2005 

His third wife was the magazine editor Dasha Zhukova, who he was with between 2008 and 2017. They had two children

More recently he has been romantically linked to ballerina Diana Vishneva (pictured on stage as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet Kirov Ballet at the Coliseum)

The tycoon’s third wife was the magazine editor Dasha Zhukova (left), who he was with between 2008 and 2017. They had two children. More recently he has been romantically linked to ballerina Diana Vishneva, seen on stage as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet Kirov Ballet at the Coliseum

Abramovich's eldest daughter, Anna, 29, is a Columbia University philosophy graduate who lives in New York. She is seen at the Chinawhite Evening Party during Cartier International Polo Day 2011 in Surrey

Abramovich’s eldest daughter, Anna, 29, is a Columbia University philosophy graduate who lives in New York. She is seen at the Chinawhite Evening Party during Cartier International Polo Day 2011 in Surrey 

His Kensington Gardens mansion, which originally cost him £90m, is close to the homes of steel magnate Lakshmi Mitta and billionaire business magnate Wang Jianlin.

Abramovich also owns homes in Russia, Sardinia, France, the West Indies and the US.  

He lost a number of properties during his 2007 divorce from his second wife Irina, with whom he has five children, including a £30m home on the Riviera called Chateau de la Croe, as well as an estate in Sussex called Fyning Hill, which he had bought for £18million.     

OTHER ASSETS 

Yachts, jets and cars: £1.26bn + 

Despite being highly secretive and preferring a life out of the spotlight, Abramovich has still led a glitzy lifestyle, with two superyachts worth £930m, £16m worth of luxury cars and private planes aplenty. 

The billionaire recently bought a £264m Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet. 

The 50-seater aircraft is the world’s most expensive private jet with a base cost of £188m and a rumoured £76m of additional equipment to the billionaire’s taste, Forbes reported, citing industry sources.

According to flight tracking websites, the plane was flown from Monaco to Moscow on Thursday, amid heightened speculation Abramovich was due to face sanctions. It is unclear if he was actually on board. 

Meanwhile, his £50m Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – took off today from Turkey headed for an unknown destination, according to unconfirmed reports from Twitter account @RuOligarchJets, run by amateur flight tracker Jack Sweeney. 

In August, the Chelsea FC owner's new £430million superyacht the Solaris was spotted for the first time at sea, off the billionaire's playground of Antibes on the French Riviera. It is now moored in Barcelona

In August, the Chelsea FC owner’s new £430million superyacht the Solaris was spotted for the first time at sea, off the billionaire’s playground of Antibes on the French Riviera. It is now moored in Barcelona 

Roman Abramovich's Yacht 'Eclipse' - which has two helipads, a submarine and three landing craft, two swimming pools and a dance floor - is pictured off Portofino in Italy on September 2, 2013

Roman Abramovich’s Yacht ‘Eclipse’ – which has two helipads, a submarine and three landing craft, two swimming pools and a dance floor – is pictured off Portofino in Italy on September 2, 2013

The Solaris is not as large as the Eclipse, a 533ft vessel. He has previously owned at least five other colossal yachts, with 162ft Sussurro the most recent to change hands around 2017

The Solaris is not as large as the Eclipse, a 533ft vessel. He has previously owned at least five other colossal yachts, with 162ft Sussurro the most recent to change hands around 2017

Eclipse 

Value: £540m

Length: 533ft

Tonnage: 13,000

Top speed: 22 knots (25mph)

Cabins: At least 24 guest cabins, but dozens more for the crew

Decks: 9 

Guests: 62

Crew: 70 

Engines: Four MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesel engines

Extras: Two helipads, a submarine and three landing craft, two swimming pools and a dance floor 

Solaris 

 Value: £430m

Length: 460ft

Tonnage: 11,000

Top speed: 18 knots (20mph)

Cabins: 48

Decks: 8

Guests: 36

Crew: 60

Engines: Two Azipod electrical propellers

Extras: Helipad, swimming pool, beach club area, jacuzzi and spa 

Abramovich recently bought a £264m Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet to add to his £930million superyacht collection and £16million worth of cars

Abramovich recently bought a £264m Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet to add to his £930million superyacht collection and £16million worth of cars

The oligarch also owns a £50m Gulfstream G650ER jet - registration LX-Ray - which reportedly took off today from Turkey headed for an unknown destination. This is a stock picture of the same model

The oligarch also owns a £50m Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – which reportedly took off today from Turkey headed for an unknown destination. This is a stock picture of the same model 

Abramovich has three Eurocopter helicopters, two of them that were based in England, which meant he could avoid congestion in London (seen here is a file photo of a Eurocopter)

Abramovich has three Eurocopter helicopters, two of them that were based in England, which meant he could avoid congestion in London (seen here is a file photo of a Eurocopter) 

His new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is understood to have been built in 2015 for PrivatAir, a Swiss airline operator, but was never handed over to the company as it filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

The plane – which replaces his Boeing 767-33AER which was valued at £128m and is currently on the market – is one of only 250 such aircraft in the world and is primarily owned and operated by major airlines. 

The 787-8 is 187 feet in length, and commercial models are able to carry 223 passengers.

For those who do not own their own Boeing 787 Dreamliner like Mr Abramovich, but still wish to charter one for a flight, they can expect to pay around £56,000 ($74,000) per hour – meaning an eight-four flight from London to New York could cost around £450,000 ($600,000).

Only two such planes are thought to be privately owned – one used by Mexico’s leader as his presidential plane and the other used by UAS International Trip Support, which operates global luxury charter jet service ‘Dream Jet’.

A spokesman for Millhouse, the company that manages the 55-year-old Abramovich’s assets, declined to comment on his purchase of the Boeing 787 when contacted by MailOnline in December. 

Abramovich’s jets, which have two pilots reportedly on £160,000 a year, are personalised inside with a study and supposedly a bedroom with a mirror on the ceiling.

The interior of a private Boeing 787 Dreamliner, similar to the model reportedly ordered by Roman Abramovich

The interior of a private Boeing 787 Dreamliner, similar to the model reportedly ordered by Roman Abramovich

A computer-graphic image of the interior of a private Boeing 787 Dreamliner - released by the manufacturer - shows a lounge space on the plane

A computer-graphic image of the interior of a private Boeing 787 Dreamliner – released by the manufacturer – shows a lounge space on the plane

The master bedroom of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that is designed for private charter. The room features a king-sized bed and an in-built television. The bedroom also features an en-suite bathroom and a walk-in closet

The master bedroom of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that is designed for private charter. The room features a king-sized bed and an in-built television. The bedroom also features an en-suite bathroom and a walk-in closet

The private charter Boeing 787 Drealiner's en-suite bathroom. The 787-8 model has 2,300-square-foot of space

The private charter Boeing 787 Drealiner’s en-suite bathroom. The 787-8 model has 2,300-square-foot of space

For those who do not own their own Boeing 787 Dreamliner like Mr Abramovich, but still wish to charter one for individual flights, they can expect to pay around £56,000 ($74,000) per hour - meaning an eight-four flight from London to New York could cost around £450,000 ($600,000)

For those who do not own their own Boeing 787 Dreamliner like Mr Abramovich, but still wish to charter one for individual flights, they can expect to pay around £56,000 ($74,000) per hour – meaning an eight-four flight from London to New York could cost around £450,000 ($600,000)

Once asked if the mirror helped improve his sex life, Abramovich replied: ‘No, but it does allow me to shave in bed.’

He also had three Eurocopter helicopters, two of them that were based in England, which meant he could avoid congestion in London. The helicopter pilots were also reportedly paid around £90,000 per year.

Meanwhile, the Chelsea FC owner’s new £430m superyacht Solaris is currently moored in Barcelona’s marina. The 460ft vessel is the most costly custom-made superyacht ever built, with 48 cabins across eight decks, a crew of 60 and space for 36 guests.

Built in Bremerhaven, Germany, Solaris recently completed sea trials and was briefly berthed in Barcelona before moving across to Cape D’Ail near Monaco, and then Antibes.

It is thought to be his second superyacht after the Eclipse, a slightly longer boat which has been valued at £500m. All his guests can be accommodated in luxurious state rooms and travel between the boat’s eight decks by lift.

As well as a gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and at least one swimming pool come as standard on boats such as these and, if the Solaris is anything like the 530ft Eclipse, it will also have a beauty salon, complete with beautician and hairdresser.

In 2016, the billionaire showed off his stunning collection of cars during a public appearance at the Nurburgring race track in Germany. Pictured: A £1.6m Ferrari FXX

In 2016, the billionaire showed off his stunning collection of cars during a public appearance at the Nurburgring race track in Germany. Pictured: A £1.6m Ferrari FXX

The second Ferrari 488 GT3 (worth at least £675,000) that is part of the Russian's car collection. It is not known if he still owns all the cars

The second Ferrari 488 GT3 (worth at least £675,000) that is part of the Russian’s car collection. It is not known if he still owns all the cars 

He also showed off a rare Pagani Zonda R, of which only 15 have ever been produced and come with a price tag of £2.5million

He also showed off a rare Pagani Zonda R, of which only 15 have ever been produced and come with a price tag of £2.5million

A Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3, worth at least £175,000, and possibly far more depending on any upgrades

A Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3, worth at least £175,000, and possibly far more depending on any upgrades 

A £1.5m Bugatti Veyron, which was also part of Mr Abramovich's car collection in 2016. The German race track was closed to the public while he used it

A £1.5m Bugatti Veyron, which was also part of Mr Abramovich’s car collection in 2016. The German race track was closed to the public while he used it

Eclipse has a night club with a dance floor but Solaris instead has an outdoor ‘beach club’ at the aft section of the upper deck.

Solaris has a flotilla of 20 high-speed jet-skis and at least one helicopter to ferry guests from ship to shore. And it’s expected that Abramovich will also invest in a personal submarine. 

Abramovich also owns a fleet of supercars valued at more than £16million. Among the high end vehicles are a Porsche 911 GT1 Evo, a Ferrari FXX, a Aston Martin Vulcan and a Maserati MC12 Corsa.

The fleet also includes a Pagani Zonda R, of which only 15 have ever been produced and come with a price tag of £2.5m.

The incredible car collection was first shown off by Abramovich while driving with his friends at the Nurburgring race track in Germany in 2016.

Business interests: Several billion pounds 

Roman Abramovich has a large shareholding in the Russian steelmaking firm whose materials experts say are used to make the military tanks which are invading Ukraine.

The Chelsea owner transferred his shares in Evraz, the London-listed Russian steelmaking giant, directly to himself from an offshore company on February 16, eight days before Vladimir Putin ordered the Ukraine invasion.

Analysts have told Sportsmail that the transfer of the 28.64% shareholding, from Virgin Islands-registered Greenleas International Holdings Ltd, could make it less vulnerable to the sanctions which have followed the invasion.

It could also make the shareholding easier to sell. The value of the shares have plummeted since Putin’s forces attacked Ukraine.

The Russian tycoon owns just under 30% of Evraz, the London-listed Russian steelmaking giant whose shares have been hammered in recent days

The Russian tycoon owns just under 30% of Evraz, the London-listed Russian steelmaking giant whose shares have been hammered in recent days 

Greggory Kuczyński, director of the Eurasia Program at the Warsaw Institute, told Sportsmail: ‘There was a risk that this offshore company would become a subject of sanctions. Evraz steel is used to build tanks, amongst other things. 

‘The company is important for the Russian arms industry, in this sense. It is important for Russia’s war plans, including with regard to Ukraine.’

A spokesperson for Abramovich said Evraz in Russia only produced steel for ‘rail and construction.’ 

In a 2017 document produced by Evraz as part of an investigation into steel importation in the US, Evraz said its Chicago operations produced ‘several products critical to US National Security… such as armoured plate for the US military.’

Evraz could not be reached for comment by Sportsmail.

Experts have said steel produced by Evraz has been used to make the military tanks which are invading Ukraine

Experts have said steel produced by Evraz has been used to make the military tanks which are invading Ukraine

The Warsaw Institute, an international relations think tank specializing in Eastern Europe, is uncertain whether Abramovich also owns shares in the Russian oil giant Rosneft, having invested nearly £225million in shares when it floated in 2006. 

Rosneft is one of Russia’s largest producers of crude oil and another major supplier of its military. The Rosneft website, which includes company details, was not accessible from the UK on Tuesday.

It is understood that Abramovich has used Jewish connections in Ukraine to attempt to broker peace discussions between Russia and the country it has invaded. 

Abramovich has substantial business interests in Ukraine, with an Evraz plant in the Donbass area of the country since 2010.

Abramovich can ill afford a prolonged war and sanctions designed to strangle and collapse the entire Russian economy, because he has so much invested in it.

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