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What Chelsea can and cannot do after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned

Chelsea FC – Stamford Bridge – Roman Abramovich Sanctioned
(Image credit: Stefan Rousseau)

Chelsea have been placed under a special operating licence after the Government sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The club must now operate under certain restrictions which cover the men’s, women’s and age-group teams.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the details of what the club can and cannot do.

Sale of the club

The current licence does not permit Abramovich to sell the club, which had been his stated intention. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that a specific licence could be granted to allow a sale to go through.

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

Payments out

Chelsea will be unable to sell players

Chelsea can still pay salaries (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A document issued by the Treasury states the club can continue to pay the salaries, allowances and pensions of all employees. Fees, dividends and other allowances to directors which pre-date the licence can be paid, with the exception of anything due to Abramovich.

Fees related to the day-to-day maintenance of club facilities can be paid, but no money can go towards new capital works or refurbishment of Stamford Bridge or any other club-owned sites.

Payments in

Broadcasting fees can still be paid to Chelsea

Broadcasting fees can still be paid to Chelsea (Justin Setterfield/PA)

The club can still receive money from other clubs for existing loan or player sale arrangements.

Television revenue and performance fees can still be paid to the club.

Transfers and contracts

Cesar Azpilicueta's contract expires this summer

Cesar Azpilicueta’s contract expires this summer (John Walton/PA)

No new player sales or purchases will be permitted under the licence, and discussions on new deals for players who are out of contract in the summer – such as men’s team captain Cesar Azpilicueta – must go on hold.

Match day

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Travel costs for any match played by a team representing Chelsea will be capped at £20,000. That immediately raises the issue of how the men’s team will be able to fulfil future Champions League away ties beyond next week’s last-16 second leg against Lille.

Fees of up to £500,000 for hosting any Chelsea match can be paid for security, stewarding and so on.

Existing ticket holders can still attend matches, and purchase food and drink while there. However, no new tickets can be purchased either by Chelsea or away fans wishing to visit Stamford Bridge, either in regular areas of the ground or in corporate hospitality sections.


Only existing stocks of Chelsea merchandise can be sold

Only existing stocks of Chelsea merchandise can be sold (Adam Davy/PA)

Third parties who purchased or produced club merchandise prior to March 10 are permitted to sell existing stocks, on the condition that no funds or other financial benefits are made available to the club or Abramovich.

Other points and principles

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The club are obliged to keep records of any activity permitted under the licence with a value exceeding £5,000 for a minimum of six years.

The licence expires on May 31. The Treasury reserves the right to vary, revoke or suspend it at any time. The core principle of the licence is to deny access to revenue, beyond what the club needs to operate on a day-to-day basis.

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