Potential Buyers For Chelsea Told To Approach UK Government

Anyone interested in buying Chelsea Football Club can make a proposal to the British government, a minister said on Friday after London sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich and halted his planned sale of the Premier League side.

"As the license conditions are written today, the sale would not be allowed,"Britain's technology minister Chris Philp told Sky News.

"However, if a buyer emerged it would be open to that buyer or to that football club to approach the government and ask for the conditions to be varied in a way that allows that sale to take place."

The government, which has been under pressure to ramp up sanctions on Russian oligarchs after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine late last month, imposed a travel ban and froze Abramovich's assets on Thursday.

The announcement brought to a halt his recently-announced plans to sell the West London football club, which he had expected to fetch more than three billion pounds ($3.93 billion).

The club is now effectively controlled by the British government and permitted to operate under strict conditions which prevent transfer deals and new ticket sales and even forced the club merchandise store to close.  

In a statement on Tuesday, Chelsea said it would seek changes to the licence under which it must now operate to allow the club to continue as normal as possible.

"If the club feels that those licence conditions need to be changed in order to safeguard jobs, then ... at any time they can come and talk to the government about varying those licence conditions," Philp told ITV in a later interview.

"The red line for the government is making sure that no financial benefit ends up in the hands of Abramovich."

Separately, London-listed Russian steelmaker Evraz (EVRE.L), in which Abramovich is the largest shareholder with a 28.6% stake according to Refinitiv Eikon, said on Friday that 10 of its 11 board members had quit.