- UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea are facing a crisis after the UK government punished their Russian owner.
- Sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich mean the club’s finances are frozen.
- The UK government has said Chelsea can only spend $26,000 to travel to the Games.
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Chelsea Football Club was plunged into chaos last week when the British government punished its owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich – who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin – announced plans to sell the club after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, the UK sanctions have frozen the assets of the oligarch, which means that he cannot profit from any sales.
With Abramovich’s assets frozen, Chelsea are prohibited from spending or making money.
Other restrictions announced by the UK government include the Premier League club stopping the sale of merchandise and closing its shop, being unable to sell new tickets for its matches or extending the contracts of its players or staff.
However, the British government has included a series of provisions in the penalties that will allow Chelsea to continue operating as a football team, even if Abramovich’s assets are frozen.
Among those provisions, it was announced that the club would only be able to spend $26,000 per game on travel expenses.
$26,000 won’t be enough for Chelsea to travel
The government said Chelsea could include in the “reasonable costs of travel to and from matches (or for training purposes) by any of the club’s teams for essential players and staff… not to exceed $26,000.” For every game for every team.
This number also includes the “reasonable cost” of any travel companies making the necessary arrangements, security personnel or contractors.
However, the cash amount was criticized as being too low, especially as Chelsea continue to compete in the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s biggest club competition in which they were crowned champions last season.
The London team is scheduled to travel this week to Lille, France, to play the second leg of the Round of 16. There are concerns that the $26,000 will not cover club travel or accommodation costs.
In turn, this will create a logistical headache for traveling to and from the match.
Elite football teams such as Chelsea often fly to matches on private charter planes. They also stay in four or five star hotels with extensive catering and security before traveling to matches by bus.
Paying the above would exceed $26,000, even if it had to be played in a local game, within the UK.
Hugo Schecter – who previously sponsored West Ham and Southampton football players – estimated That even for a game outside the UK, the lowest costs would be around $40 thousand.
Asked at the weekend about potential travel issues, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said the club could still board a flight to Lille this week.
My last tip is that we’re going to get on a plane. So we can get on the plane and back in it. If not, we’ll go by train. If not, we’ll go by bus.” Tuchel said at a press conference before the match.
Tuchel also jokes that if the team can’t afford the bus, he’ll drive a seven-seater to get to Lille.
However, the status of Chelsea’s travel plans for Wednesday remains unclear. The club declined to comment when contacted by Insider.
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