British government allows Chelsea to sell some tickets again

LONDON (AP) — The British government will allow Chelsea to sell some tickets again after easing the terms of its sanctioning license, ensuring the Champions League quarterfinal against Real Madrid is not played at an empty Stamford Bridge while denying the west London club the ability to gain financially.

The reigning European and world champions had been banned from selling tickets after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the ongoing invasion on Ukraine.

The oligarch’s assets were frozen but the government has now allowed 30 million pounds ($40 million) to be released from Chelsea’s parent company, Fordstam, to provide cash for the club to meet it costs. It equates to about a month’s wages.

Chelsea has been granted a license to continue operating as a club but with strict limitations on its commercial ventures and ability to generate revenue.

The updated license allows the sale of tickets to all home for the visit of Madrid for the Champions League first leg. Chelsea cannot sell new tickets for home Premier League games to its fans — only existing season ticket holders can attend — but away fans can now buy tickets. Chelsea supporters will be able to purchase tickets for away games.

The Premier League said it would collect all ticket proceeds that, in agreement with Chelsea, “will be donated to charity to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.”

The same agreement will see Chelsea fans now able to attend the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium against Crystal Palace next month.

The government moves also allows tickets to be sold for games involving the Chelsea women’s team again.

“I would like to thank fans for their patience while we have engaged with the football authorities to make this possible,” British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said. “Since Roman Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list for his links to Vladimir Putin we have worked extensively to ensure the club can continue to play football while ensuring the sanctions regime continues to be enforced.”

Abramovich is in the process of selling Chelsea after 19 years as owner, having been disqualified by the Premier League from running the club and being a director. The government has to provide a license to allow the sale to go through.

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