The Premier League banned Roman Abramovich from running Chelsea on Saturday after the club owner was sanctioned by the British government over Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The league board’s decision to disqualify the Russian oligarch from being a director ends his 19 years in control of the west London club but does not directly impact the players.
“The board’s decision does not impact on the club’s ability to train and play its fixtures,” the Premier League said in a statement.
The team is able to continue operating under a license issued by the British government when it froze Abramovich’s assets on Thursday while imposing sanctions against him over ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including restrictions on spending. Chelsea had company credit cards from Barclaycard frozen as a result of the sanctions.
Bowing to pressure against his ongoing ownership, Abramovich had already announced last week before being sanctioned that he would put Chelsea up for sale.
The government now has oversight of the sale process which the Raine Group, an investment bank, is working on.
Abramovich originally hoped to divert the proceeds into a new foundation for the victims of the war in Ukraine, which he is yet to condemn Putin for launching. But the government will only sanction a sale that does not see Abramovich benefit as the government tightens the screw on influential individuals it views as enabling Putin’s regime.
“Proceeds from any sale could not go to the sanctioned individual while he is subject to sanctions,” the government has said.
Some Chelsea fans have continued to stand by Abramovich during the opening two weeks of the war, even chanting his name at a game last weekend that the league hoped to use to show solidarity to Ukraine and the victims of Russia’s invasion.
Abramovich’s disqualification by the Premier League halts the reign of the competition’s first billionaire foreign owner, whose fortune turned Chelsea into one of the biggest-spending clubs in Europe and one of the game’s most successful. His investment ended Chelsea’s 50-year domestic title drought when the league was won in 2005 and the trophy has been collected another four times.
The team is the reigning European and world champion thanks to spending on players that has seen Abramovich inject more than 1.5 billion pounds ($2 billion) into Chelsea through loans he said he will not ask to be repaid.
Abramovich has made no comment since being sanctioned.