Boris Johnson has expressed his displeasure with Chelsea fans’ chants, urging them to cease chanting the name of Russian owner Roman Abramovich, which he describes as “absolutely unacceptable.”
After being sanctioned by the British Government last week over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Blues fans showed their support for Abramovich at Sunday’s home match against Newcastle.
Chelsea was placed under a special license that permits them to function but not create new revenue, and Abramovich’s assets were frozen.
Since buying Chelsea in 2003, the billionaire has brought the club extraordinary success, but Boris Johnson’s official spokesman says that supporters should not be blinded by Abramovich’s ties to the man directing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We understand the intensity of feelings surrounding people’s clubs,” he said, “but that does not excuse behavior that is utterly unacceptable at this moment.”
“I believe that individuals may demonstrate their love and support for their team without resorting to such tactics.”
The government has stated that it is still “open” to selling Chelsea, but that a new application would be required to do so. The club has not filed for a change to its tight special license, according to the spokesman.
“We are open to the club being sold,” the official added. “We would evaluate an application for a license to allow that to happen in the correct circumstances.”
“Chelsea, on the other hand, is in charge of determining the exact procedure. Potential bidders, in my understanding, would approach the club, which would then need to apply for a new revised license to make the sale possible. That hasn’t happened as far as I’m aware at this time.”
Despite the introduction of sanctions, Abramovich first put the club up for sale on March 2, and a number of interested parties are said to remain in the running.
Former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is also interested, as is British businessman Nick Candy, a syndicate led by Todd Boehly, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.
The sale will be overseen by the government to guarantee that Abramovich receives no advantage, with Raine Group, a New York merchant bank, overseeing the transaction.
The hotel at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium might be used to shelter Ukrainian refugees, according to Downing Street.
“We would absolutely want to see wherever is possible (used), we are open to all alternatives,” stated the PM’s official spokesman.