Chelsea football club arrived in Lille, France, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16, the same day the club’s embattled owner, Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the European Union.
Before the EU sanction, Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire who is said to have ties with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, the government of the United Kingdom had frozen his assets in the UK.
The Russian billionaire had to be sanctioned by the UK government due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia’s military which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Ukrainian so far.
Since Abramovich owns Chelsea, the UK government gave the Premier League club a special license status to prevent it from going out of business. The special license allows the club to continue to play league games, and honor the club’s season ticket holders.
But the amount the club will spend on a home and away matches have been restricted. The club is no longer allowed to sell match tickets and merchandise until further notice.
Amid that, the EU has frozen every Roman Abramovich’s asset in Europe except those he has in Russia. This means that Chelsea ought to go out of business.
But a statement from the European football governing body, UEFA, had acknowledged the special license the UK government issued to Chelsea. This means that UEFA will not take further action against Chelsea for the main time.
Your 22-man squad for our #UCL game…— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 15, 2022
A UEFA statement read: “UEFA is fully committed to always implementing relevant EU and international sanctions. Our understanding is that the present case is assessed in the context of the license issued in the UK which allows Chelsea FC to continue minimum football activity whilst providing a safeguard that no financial gain will result for Mr. Abramovich.
“We will work with the EU and relevant member states to ensure we have full clarity and remain in lockstep with all relevant and applicable measures in line with latest developments.”
Based on this, Chelsea’s second leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against Lille scheduled to kick off at 21:00 later today, March 16, 2022, will go on as planned.
The Chelsea squad arrive in Lille following the news that Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the EU. pic.twitter.com/sVHYKENMT4— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 15, 2022
Chelsea withdraw their request to play their FA Cup game against Middlesbrough behind closed doors
Due to the UK government’s restriction on Chelsea which prevented the club from selling match tickets, the Premier League club asked the English FA to allow them to play the quarter-final FA Cup game against Middlesbrough behind closed doors.
Chelsea had to make the request because they were able to sell only 650 tickets out of their initial away allocation of 4,620. Hence, the club felt it would be unfair to have just 650 supporters at the stadium against Middlesbrough that knocked out Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to get to the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, the request attracted more criticism to the club. Hence, the club was left with no choice but to withdraw it.
A statement from the English FA read: “After constructive talks between the FA and Chelsea, the club has agreed to remove their request for the Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final tie against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors.
“The FA remains in ongoing discussions with Chelsea, the Premier League, and the Government to find a solution that would enable both Chelsea fans to attend games and away fans to attend Stamford Bridge, whilst ensuring sanctions are respected.”
Based on this development, Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final game against Middlesbrough scheduled to take place at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium will not be played behind closed doors. The match will kick off at 18:15 on Saturday, March 19, 2022.
As it stands, the only time Chelsea will be free from the ongoing sanctions is after a new owner takes over the club. Reports in the UK are speculating that the government plans to set up a special board to oversee the sales of the club. But at the time of publishing this report, the future of Chelsea was still unclear.
The FA has issued the following statement. We are grateful for the FA’s continuing efforts to help us find a solution. https://t.co/fm1uYfSLNz— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 15, 2022