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Roman Abramovich disqualified as Chelsea director but club sale set to progress

Bidders for the world and European champions have been told to press on with their submissions.

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Roman Abramovich has been barred from being a director of Chelsea (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Roman Abramovich has been barred from being a director of Chelsea (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Roman Abramovich has been barred from being a director of Chelsea (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Roman Abramovich has been disqualified as a director of Chelsea by the Premier League board but the sale of the club is expected to progress with Government oversight.

The sanctioning of Blues owner Abramovich by the UK Government on Thursday saw the Russian-Israeli billionaire’s UK assets frozen, including Chelsea, which stalled proceedings.

Chelsea have been handed a new licence to continue operations, however, and the European champions are still locked in negotiations with the Government to ease restrictions.

New York merchant bank the Raine Group has now assessed the terms of the licence and agreed a route forward for the sale with the Government, the PA news agency understands.

The Premier League board’s decision to disqualify Abramovich is unlikely to have any real impact, as  the sale process was already under way. It does not affect Chelsea’s ability to play matches.

There was some positive news for the club on Saturday, meanwhile, with the licence amended to allow up to £900,000 to be spent per home match.

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport welcomed the Premier League’s action and said of the licence in a statement: “We have said all along that we would engage with Chelsea to understand what is needed to allow upcoming games to be played to minimise the impact on the Leagues, football pyramid and fans.

“Following extensive engagement with the club on the details of their structures since the sanction was announced, we have made some further operational amendments to the licence to do so.”

Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2, pledging to write off the Blues’ £1.5billion debt and to divert all proceeds to a new foundation to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.

The 55-year-old moved to sell Chelsea after 19 years at the Stamford Bridge helm, amid Russia’s continued war in Ukraine.

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Graffiti close to Stamford Bridge shows the strong feelings around the situation at Chelsea (Yui Mok/PA)

Graffiti close to Stamford Bridge shows the strong feelings around the situation at Chelsea (Yui Mok/PA)

PA

Graffiti close to Stamford Bridge shows the strong feelings around the situation at Chelsea (Yui Mok/PA)

The Government sanctioned Abramovich after claiming to have proved his direct links to Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime, although Chelsea’s owner has always denied any association.

The Raine Group’s progression of the sale means Chelsea’s suitors can again push forward with their bids to take control of the European and world champions of the club game.

Abramovich was understood to have been ready to work with Government oversight on the sale and, now the Raine Group has completed suitable checks, the interested parties can press on.

LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly remains well-placed for a purchase, with Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts also understood to be in the running.

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Nick Candy is among those interested in buying Chelsea (Ian West/PA)

Nick Candy is among those interested in buying Chelsea (Ian West/PA)

PA

Nick Candy is among those interested in buying Chelsea (Ian West/PA)

British property tycoon Nick Candy has also confirmed his strong interest in buying the Blues and is in the process of building a consortium.

Chelsea saw several credit cards temporarily frozen on Friday amid a frenzied day of negotiations with the Government over the terms of their new operating licence.

Downing Street chiefs are ready to amend the terms of the licence so Chelsea can operate as normally as possible while ensuring Abramovich does not profit.

But Chelsea argue that Abramovich did not profit from regular operations anyway, so are hopeful of a swift restoration of a number of currently restricted concerns.

Chelsea cannot sell any new tickets, leaving fans who have not got season tickets or pre-purchased tickets unable to attend future matches.

The Blues cannot sell any merchandise, including new match programmes, meaning vendors will not be able to work their shifts in Sunday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.


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