James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Roman Abramovich disqualified as director as sanctions throw Chelsea into chaos
12 March 2022, 12:53 | Updated: 12 March 2022, 13:41
Roman Abramovich has been disqualified as a Chelsea director after being sanctioned.
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The West London club, which the businessman bought in 2003, has been severely hit by the measures that have been imposed on prominent and wealthy Russian oligarchs after Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Ahead of their game against Newcastle on Sunday, the Premier League said in a statement: "Following the imposition of sanctions by the UK Government, the Premier League board has disqualified Roman Abramovich as a director of Chelsea Football Club.
"The board's decision does not impact on the club's ability to train and play its fixtures, as set out under the terms of a licence issued by the Government, which expires on May 31 2022."
Chelsea, which became one of the elite English and European sides since Abramovich's fortune transformed the club, has been thrown into turmoil after he was sanctioned by the UK government this week.
He had tried to put some distance between himself and the club by saying he had put it in the hands of a trust.
The move was seen as a way to minimise the damage of any sanctions.
Chelsea cannot be sold without Government approval, leaving it in a state of limbo and financial uncertainty.
Its shirt sponsor, telecommunications giant Three, has withdrawn from sponsoring the club, it is not allowed to sell new tickets, and it cannot sign or sell players.
Chelsea said in a statement: "By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. However, the UK Government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities.
"We will fulfil our men's and women's team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence. This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible.
"We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities."
The club's players did not appear too affected by the news as they cruised past Norwich away on Thursday, the same day the sanctions were announced.
Fans did chant Abramovich's name, to boos from the home crowd.
On Friday, its bank account was frozen as Barclays said it was assessing the Government licence allowing Chelsea to continue some operations.