Premier League • England

UK sanctions imposed on Chelsea explained, as Three ‘reviews’ sponsorship deal

Jorginho and Marcos Alonso celebrate for Chelsea

Chelsea’s shirt sponsor, telecommunications company Three, has placed the deal under review after the UK Government on Thursday imposed sanctions on the club’s owner Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich has been sanctioned, freezing the Russian-Israeli billionaire’s planned sale of Chelsea. The 55-year-old put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 in the wake of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and has always staunchly denied any current political links to Russia’s ruling elite, but Boris Johnson’s Government has now frozen all his UK assets.

And that has already had a knock-on effect with Three pondering their three-year sponsorship deal.

A company spokesperson said: “We are in discussions with Chelsea and reviewing our position.”

The deal was announced in January 2020, with the company logos appearing on shirts from the start of last season.

“Three is proud to be Chelsea Football Club’s principal shirt sponsor and key partner,” read a statement at the time.

Chelsea sale could happen

Meanwhile, the UK government remains “open” to the sale of Chelsea despite imposing asset-freezing sanctions on Abramovich.

The Treasury would have to approve a new licence for Chelsea’s sale. But Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich would not be allowed to profit.

A host of parties have signalled interest in buying Chelsea. And Downing Street have now confirmed the Government could still oversee a sale.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “We are now talking to Chelsea Football Club and those conversations will continue. It would be part of those discussions the terms of any specific licence that’s granted to allow any sale to proceed.

“The important thing is under no circumstances would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale.

“It’s fair to say the Government is open to the sale of the club. But currently it would require another licence and that would require further conversation with the Treasury and other departments.”

Here, the PA news agency looks at the details of what the club can and cannot do.

Roman Abramovich Chelsea owner October 2021

Sale of the club

The current licence does not permit Abramovich to sell the club, which had been his stated intention. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that a specific licence could be granted to allow a sale to go through.

“The important thing is under no circumstances would any sale allow Roman Abramovich to profit from that or take any money from that sale,” the spokesman said.

Payments out

A document issued by the Treasury states the club can continue to pay the salaries, allowances and pensions of all employees. Fees, dividends and other allowances to directors which pre-date the licence can be paid. The exception being anything that is due to Abramovich.

Fees related to the day-to-day maintenance of club facilities can be paid. But no money can go towards new capital works or refurbishment of Stamford Bridge or any other club-owned sites.

Payments in

The club can still receive money from other clubs for existing loan or player sale arrangements.

Television revenue and performance fees can still be paid to the club.

Transfers and contracts

No new player sales or purchases will be permitted under the licence. And discussions on new deals for players who are out of contract in the summer must go on hold.

Match day

Travel costs for any match played by a team representing Chelsea will be capped at £20,000. That immediately raises the issue of how the men’s team will be able to fulfil future Champions League away ties beyond next week’s last-16 second leg against Lille.

Chelsea sanctions mean Antonio Rudiger will leave this summer

Chelsea sanctions mean Antonio Rudiger will leave this summer

Antonio Rudiger will likely leave Chelsea this summer after the UK government have put sanctions on Roman Abramovich


Fees of up to £500,000 for hosting any Chelsea match can be paid for security, stewarding and so on.

Existing ticket holders can still attend matches, and purchase food and drink while there. However, no new tickets can be purchased either by Chelsea or away fans wishing to visit Stamford Bridge. That includes in regular areas of the ground or in corporate hospitality sections.


Third parties who purchased or produced club merchandise prior to March 10 are permitted to sell existing stocks, on the condition that no funds or other financial benefits are made available to the club or Abramovich.

Other points and principles

The club are obliged to keep records of any activity permitted under the licence with a value exceeding £5,000 for a minimum of six years.

The licence expires on May 31. The Treasury reserves the right to vary, revoke or suspend it at any time. The core principle of the licence is to deny access to revenue, beyond what the club needs to operate on a day-to-day basis.

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