Chelsea have been frozen in time. Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned and the club are allowed to run… just not as they ever have been.
The Blues were facing an uncertain summer with major contracts coming to completion this summer and the likes of Antonio Rudiger and club captain Cesar Azpilicueta leaving but this latest spanner in the works clouds just about everything.
So just how bad could things get at Stamford Bridge? And is there anything to prevent that?
1. Chelsea fans aren't allowed to games for the rest of the season
As part of the sanctions against the European champions, Chelsea can't sell any tickets. Financially, that's going to have a dent, right?
But it's not just about the money. Not only are there thousands of Blues who want to go to the Bridge to see their team between now and May, the team need those fans. Playing in a half-empty stadium with just the season ticket holders is going to have a massive impact on Thomas Tuchel's side's chances towards the end of the season.
Why it might not happen: Culture secretary Nadine Dorries claimed there will be no plans to stop "existing ticket holders" from attending matches, suggesting that future tickets might not go on sale – but did go as far as to call clubs "cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities".
Chelsea, as a club, might be able to argue that as a community, they need the fans there – and sort some kind of free lottery to get fans in. Otherwise, their current license to run during these sanctions could well be re-written to allow for fans in the ground, given that the matchday revenue is not a significant source of income for them in comparison to their broadcast money.
2. Chelsea are placed under a transfer ban
Dorries has confirmed that Chelsea are effectively under a transfer embargo. The club were in this position as recently as 2019 and still managed to qualify for the Champions League the following season – but this time, it's a little different.
Chelsea won't even be allowed to extend contracts under the current sanction – meaning that they would lose Rudiger, Christensen and skipper Azpilicueta.
Why it might not happen: If Chelsea can be sold without Roman Abramovich collecting any of the profits of the sale, the sanctions will be lifted and the transfer ban will be lifted. The new owner/s would then be allowed to invest in a fresh new start for the club…
MORE ON THE CHELSEA SALE Chelsea can STILL be sold – on one condition
3. A massive exodus follows
Roman Abramovich has invested billions of his own money in Chelsea. The motivations behind doing so may well be debated for years to come by those interested in politics as much as football – but the next people to run the club might not be as generous with money.
With Chelsea looking to lower their wage bill before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it was expected that the likes of Rudiger and Christensen would leave – but what about now? With Chelsea facing a financially uncertain future, will big stars like N'Golo Kante and Mason Mount start heading for the exit? Even Tuchel could go, surely?
Why it might not happen: Whoever takes over from Abramovich is going to want Chelsea to be successful. And while the club is not perfectly run, there were a lot of things that they have done successfully over the years. Protecting the key assets of the club is going to be a priority for whoever takes over at the Bridge – so while the club may lose a couple of players this summer, the key ones don't look like they're in any immediate danger.
4. The club are placed in administration and face a nine-point deduction in the Premier League
Chelsea's debt to Roman Abramovich passed an eye-watering £1.5bn in January. Part of having a billionaire owner to bail you out is that should that owner walk away… the bailing part becomes difficult.
The "football creditors rule" requires football-related debts to be paid first: that's wages owed to players and staff, plus transfer fees owed to other clubs over certain periods of time. So what if Chelsea can't pay off these debts?
Why it might not happen: Abramovich has apparently waived these debts. Going forward, the Blues will have to change the way they pay for things, of course – but administration does not seem on the horizon for now at least.
5. Sponsors pull out of their contracts
Chelsea sponsor Three have suspended their association with the club, withdrawing their logo from the team's shirts. Others could well follow suit, too.
According to the Mail (opens in new tab), a number of Chelsea sponsors could view themselves as "guilty by association" when it comes to their partnerships. Hyundai and Hublot both have partnerships ending this season. Could Chelsea face an exodus of sponsors and lose significant money over?
Why it might not happen: Plenty of brands are looking to disassociate themselves from Russia at the moment, though many of Chelsea's sponsors will probably hold off. The big one, Nike, have a decision to make: their deal ends in 2032.
The Blues may just have to play the waiting game over a sale of the club. The government are prepared to approve one that Abramovich doesn't profit from – maybe even Three will come back to the fold after the prospective sale…
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT.
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