Roman Abramovich has been disqualified as Chelsea director by the Premier League board after being sanctioned by the British government over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the league said in a statement on Saturday.
Abramovich, who came under scrutiny after the Russian invasion, said last week he was selling the London club. But the sale is now on hold as Chelsea operate under a special government license.
“The board’s decision will not affect the club’s ability to coach and play its games, as set out in the terms of a government-issued license that expires on May 31, 2022,” the league said.
The government welcomed the move and said it was not against the sale of the club. It added that it had changed the special license to allow the club to spend £900,000 to host each of its games.
“We applaud the Premier League’s action to disqualify Roman Abramovich as director of the football club. The government has made it clear that we must hold accountable those who made the Putin regime possible,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.
“We are open to a sale of the club and would consider applying for a license to make this possible,” he added.
The team can continue to play games and pay players and staff, but not switch players on or off as the government seeks to prevent Abramovich from benefiting in any way from such moves.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for a reported £140m ($182.5m) and his investment led to the most successful era in their history as the club won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues .
Chelsea’s main shirt sponsor, mobile network Three, has suspended ties, while another sponsor, Trivago, said it would stay with the club.
The UK sanctions list entry described Abramovich as “a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch” who had “close ties for decades” with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich has denied having any such connections.
Chelsea, third in the table with 56 points from 27 games, host Newcastle United on Sunday.