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Chelsea fans react to being barred from buying tickets

Chelsea fans have expressed mixed reactions after the club was barred from selling match tickets this morning.

Roman Abramovich, the Blues’ Russian owner, has been sanctioned by the UK government in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in spite of the billionaire’s plans to sell the west London club.  

Chelsea Football Club has been frozen as an asset, and although the club has been given a special licence to remain operational, only season ticket-holders and those who had purchased match tickets before today can now attend games.

David Johnstone, editor of Chelsea fanzine cfcuk, said: “I’m devastated for Chelsea Football Club, I’m devastated for all the staff that work there, and I’m devastated for Abramovich on a personal level.

“It pales into insignificance compared to what’s happening in Ukraine, it’s nothing, football, It just doesn’t matter.

“But it’s not fair for them, It’s punishing people who have got absolutely nothing at all to do with anything that’s going on in Ukraine.

“They’re just being punished because they support a football club. With the sanctions, it’s ordinary people that are going to suffer.”

Abramovich is alleged to have close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin, which he has denied.

The government says Abramovich, who has an estimated net worth of £9.4bn, is “one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin”.

There has been growing pressure on the UK government to sanction Chelsea and last week Abramovich announced that he intended to sell the club he has owned since 2003.

However, Chelsea remains an asset of Abramovich and their fans will have restricted access to games as a result.

The business can still operate under the special licence, with fixtures going ahead and staff still being paid.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the licence will run until 31 May.

Tara Thapa, chairman of the Hounslow Official Chelsea Supporters’ Club, said: “We are not directly involved. We have every right to watch the match.

“Football and all sports need to be separated from the politics.”

However, other Chelsea fans have been more accepting of the sanctions.

Dan Silver, a board member of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, said: “The supporters have been massively punished, but it is churlish to moan about not being able to go to a stadium.

“These sanctions aren’t aimed at Chelsea, they are aimed at Abramovich, and Chelsea are collateral damage because he owns the club.

“It’s frustrating for supporters not being able to watch the club, there are so many things that make Chelsea a happy place from a mental health perspective and meeting your mates.

“But the bigger picture is there are people dying in Ukraine.”

During Abramovich’s 19-year tenure, Chelsea have been transformed from a middling Premier League side to one of the most recognisable names in club football.

He has invested heavily in the side, including a £1.5bn loan that he does not want to be repaid as part of the sale.

His funds have helped Chelsea win every major trophy under his watch, the latest being the FIFA Club World Cup in February, while the women’s side is among the best in Europe.

The club’s shirt sponsor, telecommunications company Three, has requested that the Blues “temporarily suspend” its £40m deal with the club.

Featured image credit: Zakarie Faibis via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

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Peter Mallard
Peter Mallard
11 March 2022 6:16 am

Yes, football pails in significance to tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yes, go after the oligarchs that are actively supporting Putin, but do it in a way that would be considered traditionally British. Firm but fair with a well thought out approach. This seems like a rash response willfully targeting the club’s ability to maintain its place in the footballing world, it’s sponsors and its fans.

The UK government has set an unsettling precedent that despite allowing foreign ownership of football clubs it can instantly seize them on the unproven allegations and essentially starve the clubs ability to be viable.

Chelsea is an English football club that the Premier League (and the UK laws governing it) allowed it to be owned by a Russian oligarch in the first place. With these actions the government has restricted the teams ability to operate at a competitive level that will most likely spiral downwards with the loss of sponsors, revenue, fans and ultimately, players. The UK government has disrespected the ownership laws it established as well as the global fans of a British brand. The fans don’t love Chelsea because of Abromovich, they love Chelsea because of the players, the coach and the brand that represents a London borough.

Instead, the government could have allowed the club to generate revenue but have it restricted for the use of football operations only. Assign a British caretaker CEO to oversee operations so that revenue does not flow to Russia. Allow the sale to go through and hold the funds until allegations against Abromovich have been fairly sited and heard by a court of law. There are a myriad of better ways to handle this situation yet the government seems hell bent on not just punishing Abromovich but the global footballing community as well. Poor form Britain!

Last edited 4 months ago by Peter Mallard

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